Chris Shays

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Chris Shays previously served the 4th Congressional district of Connecticut

Christopher H. Shays, a Republican, is a former U.S. Representative for the 4th Congressional district of Connecticut, having served 1987 to 2009. He was defeated by Jim Himes (D) in the general election.[1]

Record and controversies

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Chris Shays voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!

Iraq War

Shays voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[2]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

Iraq Study Group

In late June 2007, Rep. Shays, along with Reps. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), issued a letter to President Bush, urging him to reconstitute the Iraq Study Group. The bipartisan group referred to a provision included in the Foreign Operations appropriations bill passed by the House to provide $1 million to the U.S. Institute for Peace to reestablish the Iraq Study Group. The members worried whether the President would sign the bill with that amendment included. Rep. Udall stated that allowing the group to update their report would give the President, Congress, and the public an independent perspective on the situation in Iraq to compare with the report due by General Petraeus in September.

Main article: Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008

Improper disclosure of Qatar trip

In 2004, Shays traveled to Qatar to attend the Qatar-American Conference on Free Markets and Democracy hosted by the Islamic Free Market Institute, a non-profit founded by Republican booster Grover Norquist. Though he initially received approval to use government funds to pay for the trip, he decided against it and instead allowed his passage to be paid for by the Islamic Institute claiming that he wanted to save the government money. He failed, however, to list the trip on his 2004 financial disclosure form. In 2006, he filed an amendment to that report when confronted by The New Republic with receipts from the Islamic Institute proving that it had paid for his air fare and lodging.[1]

According the The New Republic, the government of Qatar appears to have reimbursed the Islamic Institute for their expenses in running the conference. As it is prohibited for any member of Congress to accept gifts or take trips funded by foreign governments or their agents, this would make Shays trip in violation of US law. [2]

Campaign finance

In 2001, Shays sponsored the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) with Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) in the House and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) in the Senate. Also known as the Shays-Meehan bill in the House, the BCRA banned "soft money" from being contributed to federal or state candidates and national, state, and local political parties. BCRA also prohibited non-partisan "issue ads" funded by soft money from corporations and labor unions - those referring to candidates for federal election without expressly advocating their election or defeat -- in the 60 days prior to a general election, or 30 days prior to a primary election. It also required the disclosure of sources of finance for "electioneering communications" in excess of $10,000 per year, and raised the legal limits of hard money that could be raised. The bill passed the House 240-189 and Senate 60-40, and was then signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Main article: Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002

Lobbying reform

On May 1, 2007, Reps. Shays and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) introduced (H.R.2093), which would "amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to provide for additional reporting by lobbying firms." The bill would require organizations that spend $100,000 or more per quarter, in attempts to get the public to contact their representatives, to register and disclose their financial information to the government.

Main article: Grassroots and astroturf lobbying legislation

Altercation with Capitol police officer

In July, 2007, Shays got into an altercation with and allegedly swore at a Capitol police officer. The police officer, citing Capitol rules, would not take a cell-phone call from Shays, who was attempting to assist an intern of his who had gotten lost while giving a tour of the Capitol. Shays apologized for the incident, saying he had behaved "in a way I know was not appropriate."[3]


Shays was born October 18, 1945 in Stamford, Connecticut. He grew up in Darien, attended Principia College and received an MBA and MPA fromm New York University. He and his wife Betsi -- his high school sweetheart -- served in the Peace Corps in Fiji. He was a seven term member of the Connecticut House of Representatives before entering the U.S. House of Representatives.

Now in his tenth term, he was first elected to the Congress in 1987 in a special election held to fill the vacant seat of the late Stewart McKinney.

Shays is known by his supporters and the press as a "maverick" and "independent thinker", while conservative detractors regard him as a RINO ("Republican in name only"). Liberal detractors regard him as a false moderate who effects centrism through catch and release techniques.

He has formed coalitions with liberals and moderates from both parties. Along with Representative Marty Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, he co-sponsored the Shays-Meehan bill, which was eventually signed into law as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The American Civil Liberties Union "believes that key elements of Shays-Meehan violate the First Amendment right to free speech because the legislation contains provisions that would violate the constitutionally protected right of the people to express their opinions about issues through broadcast advertising if they mention the name of a candidate and restrict soft money contributions and uses of soft money for no constitutionally justifiable reason." However the Supreme Court has upheld the controversial new law (McConnell v. Federal Elections Commission).

Shays has also been very vocal in attacks against the right-wing elements in his own party. In the debate surrounding the controversial Terri Schiavo case he said, "The Republican party of Lincoln has become the party of theocracy." [3] He argued that the GOP claimed to be in favor of states' rights "unless they don't like what states are doing".

The Congressman has long been for environmental regulations, and was endorsed in the past election by the League of Conservation Voters.

Shays is pro-choice on abortion although he has voted in favor of a ban on the practice known as partial birth abortion which usually is performed on third-trimester fetuses. Shays was endorsed by the Brady Campaign for his support for gun control.

While Shays has a liberal voting record in comparison to other House Republicans, his votes against the party leadership usually occur when his vote has no chance of changing the overall outcome. As an example, Shays has voted against the leadership on the subject of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when the vote outcome was never in doubt; he voted with the leadership for a provision in the same energy bill to exempt the makers of MTBE from lawsuits when the vote was going to be extremely close.

While a social liberal, Shays is a fiscal conservative. He has spoken out against fiscal deficits wasteful government spending and has been a leader in the House on issues of national defense. He was the first U.S. Congressman to visit Iraq after the outbreak of war in 2003.

In April of 2005, he broke with most of his party over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's alleged ethics violations. This made Shays one of the first Republicans to criticize DeLay publicly. Shays stated that he should resign, saying, "Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election."[4]

While Shays has criticized DeLay for hurting the Republican party's electoral chances, he is very close to Speaker Dennis Hastert. In June of 2005 Dennis Hastert helped Shays raise $70,000 at a country club event.

2006 elections

In 2006, the Democrats nominated Diane Farrell, and the Libertarian Party nominated Philip Maymin to face Shays in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [5] Shays retained his seat.

2008 elections

In 2008, Shays was defeated by Democrat Jim Himes.[1]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00000652&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Chris Shays
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and affiliations


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

  • House Committee on Financial Services
    • Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
    • Subcommittee on Capital Markets Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises
  • House Committee on Government Reform
    • Subcommittee on Federalism and the Census
    • Subcommittee on National Security Emerging Threats and International Relations - Chair
  • House Committee on Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Investigations
    • Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack
  • House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina

Coalitions and caucuses

  • Co Chair, Congressional Arts Caucus
  • Co Chair, Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus
  • Co Founded, Congressional National Service Caucus
  • United States Chair, Global Legislators Organized for a Balanced Environment
  • Chair, Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Veterans Affairs
  • Co Chair, Non-Proliferation Task Force
  • Saving America's Cities Working Group
  • Co Chair, United Nations Working Group

Boards and other affiliations

More background data

Wikipedia also has an article on Chris Shays. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


Articles and resources

Congresspedia/SourceWatch Related Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mark Pazniokas, Jon Lender, "Jim Himes Defeats Christopher Shays In 4th District", Hartford Courant, November 5, 2008.
  2. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
  3. Staff Reports, "Congressman clashes with police," CNN Political Ticker, July 21, 2007.
  4. Staff and Board, Global Green USA, accessed August 3, 2008.
  5. Honorary Board, Republicans for Environmental Protection, accessed September 14, 2010.

External resources

External articles

Local blogs and discussion sites

Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: None
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Co Chair, Congressional Arts Caucus; Co Chair, Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus; Co Founded, Congressional National Service Caucus; United States Chair, Global Legislators Organized for a Balanced Environment; Chair, Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Veterans Affairs; Co Chair, Non-Proliferation Task Force; Saving America's Cities Working Group; Co Chair, United Nations Working Group
Committees: House Committee on Financial Services, House Committee on Financial Services/Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, House Committee on Financial Services/Subcommittee on Capital Markets Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform/Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform/Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on Homeland Security/Subcommittee on Intelligence Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
August 18, 1987
First Took Current Office:
August 18, 1987
Next Election:
November 2, 2010
Term Ends:
January 3, 2009
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut State Representative,
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
Phone: / Fax:

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: October 18, 1945