Ginny B. Waite (Politician)

ginny_brown-waite.jpgVirginia "Ginny" Brown-Waite (born October 5, 1943) is the former U.S. Representative for Florida's 5th congressional district, serving from 2003 - 2011. She is a member of the Republican Party.

The district stretches along several counties in western and central Florida, including territory in the metropolitan area of Tampa Bay.

Brown-Waite was born in Albany, New York and graduated in 1976 with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies at Empire State College, State University of New York (Northeast Center). She earned a master's degree in public administration from Russell Sage College.

She served as a staffer in the New York State Senate, eventually rising to legislative director. She moved to Brooksville, Florida in the 1980s.

After serving one term as a county commissioner in Hernando County, Florida, Brown-Waite was elected to the Florida State Senate as a Republican from Hernando County.

She served as Senate Majority Whip from 1999–2000, and was elected president pro tem of the State Senate in 2000.

Brown-Waite has expressed support for the death penalty. She says she believed she saw "a message" in a nosebleed suffered by death row inmate Allen Lee Davis during his execution on July 8, 1999. Brown-Waite, who saw in the blood the shape of a cross, believes that it either indicated Davis had made peace with God, or it was a message from God giving his blessing to the execution.

Since entering Congress, Brown-Waite has garnered a lifetime rating of 90 from the American Conservative Union.

However, she has broken with her party on several occasions. She criticized George W. Bush for fielding questions from hand-picked crowds. "Let me tell you the difference between a GWB town-hall meeting — George W. Bush — and a GBW — Ginny Brown-Waite — town-hall meeting: I don't load the audience with just the choir," she once said.

She was one of five Republicans who voted against a bill to give Terri Schiavo's parents the right to sue in federal court to keep her alive (Schiavo's home was located in the 5th). She is a member of Republican groups such as Christine Todd Whitman's It's My Party Too, Mike Castle's Republican Main Street Partnership, and The Wish List.

Brown-Waite's district has one of the highest concentrations of retirees in the country. In early 2005, she referred to the current Social Security system as a "Ponzi scheme". However, she was skeptical of the president's proposal for personal accounts, saying that he hadn't done a good job of selling it to seniors.

On April 6, 2005, Brown-Waite introduced the Jessica Lunsford Act, named for Jessica Lunsford, a nine-year-old from her district who was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in Homosassa, Florida by John Couey.

The bill, modeled after the Florida law of the same name, had the objectives to punish sex offenders and reduce their ability to re-offend. It had 107 cosponsors and was referred to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, but it was never voted upon (either by any committee or the full Congress), and it died when the 109th Congress finally adjourned.

On Iraq, after reports that Brown-Waite supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops within a year, Charlie Keller, her spokesman, said in an e-mail that "it was taken out of context" and that "she said that if the Iraqis did not work toward troop and police deadlines, then Congress would put pressure on them to do so with the threat of denying funds for reconstruction and possibly withdrawing some troops." He also said that Brown-Waite would support "a properly-worded resolution" that would put forth a no-confidence vote in Congress for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (who resigned in 2007).

Brown-Waite voted against an amendment that would have cut off funding for Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations.

Brown-Waite is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2006, she supported H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act In 2008, she opposed H.R. 5767, the Payment Systems Protection Act (a bill that sought to place a moratorium on enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act while the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve defined "unlawful Internet gambling").

An ardent opponent of gun control, Brown-Waite is known for proudly carrying a gun when she is home living in the 5th district. She proposed the American Heroes Repatriation Act, to move American soldiers buried in France and Belgium back to the United States., in the process angering French officials and constituents.

She also caused a minor controversy when, commenting on the economic-stimulus package proposed by President Bush in early 2008, she referred to the peoples of Puerto Rico and Guam as "foreign citizens" (when they are, in fact, American citizens and nationals, respectively). She has since clarified those comments with an article on the Orlando Sentinel.

On September 29, 2008, Brown-Waite voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and also voted against the amended version which was enacted.

The House version of the American Recovery and Investment Act was passed on January 28, 2009. Brown-Waite was the only Republican to abstain from voting. All other 177 House Republicans voted against the Act.

In September 2006, Brown-Waite was told about an incident from 2003 or 2004 when an apparently inebriated Mark Foley had tried to gain access to the pages' dormitory. On September 28, 2006, an inappropriate e-mail that Foley sent was posted on's "The Blotter". Brown-Waite launched her own investigation and alerted Republican leadership on September 29 both about the dorm incident and about pages who had been made to feel uncomfortable by Foley. Foley resigned that day and the scandal erupted that evening with news of the lurid instant messages he had sent former pages.

The 5th District had been represented by Democrat Karen Thurman since its formation in 1993. After the 2000 Census, the Republican-controlled Florida legislature redrew the 5th to be more friendly to Republicans. The new 5th was virtually coextensive with Brown-Waite's state senate district. Brown-Waite won a narrow victory in November 2002 over Thurman despite the unfavorable publicity that came in October when police caught her husband, former New York state trooper Harvey Waite, stealing pro-Thurman lawn signs.

Brown-Waite was re-elected to a fourth term in 2008, receiving 61% of the vote against Democrat John Russell.

Land O' Lakes Republican Jim King joined the race as a conservative candidate, attacking the moderate Congresswoman from the right on matters of national security, immigration, taxation, and supporting the troops, which is one of Brown-Waite's signature issues. He also made an appeal to conservative Christian primary voters.

In the first three fundraising quarters, King raised $40,000, an amount dwarfed by the $176,000 Brown-Waite raised during that period, yet still large enough for King's campaign to have begun running local radio ads nine month in advance of primary day. Three Democrats declared their candidacies: 2006 nominee John Russell, H. David Werder and Carol Castagnero. Castagnero placed third in the Democratic primary for Governor in 2006 and took 40% of the vote against State Senator Paula Dockery in 2004. John Russell was the Democratic nominee in the General Election against Ginny Brown-Waite in 2006.

On November 26, 2007, it was reported that after years of hosting town hall meetings on the issue and calling for full hearing on the implications of the FAIR Tax, Brown-Waite had endorsed the FairTax proposal on September 24. King accused her of only changing her stance because of his support for it.

On April 30, Brown-Waite announced she will be retiring at the end of her current term. In a statement, she cited long-running health problems, particularly with her pancreas. Brown-Waite has endorsed Hernando County sheriff Richard B. Nugent as her successor.


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