Dana Tyron Rohrabacher (born June 21, 1947, in Coronado, California) is a Californian politician, who has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1989, currently representing .
With Reagan a lame duck, Rohrabacher left the administration in 1988 to pursue the open House seat recently vacated by Dan Lungren. With the fundraising help of friend Oliver North, Rohrabacher was able to win the Republican primary and capture the seat, centered around northern coastal Orange County. A friend and fellow White House aide, Chris Cox, won a seat in the same election in southern Orange County. The pair remain close though Cox is now chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Rohrabacher was Chairman of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science Committee from 1997 until January 2005, having received a two-year waiver to serve beyond the six-year term limit.
As a senior member of the International Relations Committee, Rohrabacher led the effort to deny Most Favored Nation trading status to the People's Republic of China, citing that nation's dismal human rights record and opposition to democracy. His subcommittee assignments are East Asia and Pacific, and Middle East and South Asia.
Rohrabacher's Communications Director is Tara Setmayer, a black female conservative commentator who is adamently opposed to affirmative action.
On March 30, 2006, Rohrabacher decried a guest worker proposal as "the foul odor that's coming out of the United States Senate." He said that if illegal immigrants who do many farm jobs were deported, "the millions of young men who are prisoners around our country can pick the fruits and vegetables. I say, let the prisoners pick the fruits."
In early 2008 Rohrabacher endorsed Mitt Romney in the Republican Presidential primary, citing his positions on stemming illegal immigration and criticizing John McCain. He said of McCain, "He's been the enemy of those of us who have stemmed the flow of illegals into our country, whereas Romney has made some very tough commitments.
On March 7, 2006, Rohrabacher introduced HR 4895, an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, "to limit the provision of the United States military assistance and the sale, transfer, or licensing of United States military equipment or technology to Ethiopia."
On the 8th of September, 2008, Rohrabacher, at a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, argued that the Georgians had initiated the recent military confrontation in the on-going Russian-South Ossetian conflict.
Rohrabacher has been close friends with and received campaign contributions from the now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff since the mid-1980s. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was one of the only House members to publicly come to the defense of disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff to reporters, describing him as an "honest man" to the Washington Post and praising him as a "selfless patriot" to a federal judge. Rohrabacher admits to being a longtime friend of Abramoff. He told the Associated Press: "They're portraying Jack as a monster. I see him more as a good person who's done bad things and has to be punished for doing bad things.... I think that he obviously has done some things that are wrong and illegal and he's going to have to pay the price for it.” Rohrabacher has publicly taken the position that he thinks that “... a lot of other things that have been characterized as corruption on the part of Abramoff are actually standard operating procedures for lobbying in Washington, D.C., arranging trips and things like that. So I think that he's received a lot of unjust criticism."
His relationship included the following:
After I left the White House and was elected to Congress, but before I was sworn into Congress, I knew I had that two months between November and January to do things that I could never do once I was elected to Congress. I chose to hike into Afghanistan as part of a small Mujahedin unit and to engage in a battle against the Russian and communist forces near and around the city of Jalalabad.
In the November/December 1996 issue of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Rohrabacher was reported as saying that the Taliban were not terrorists or revolutionaries, that they would develop a disciplined society that would leave no room for terrorists, and that the Taliban posed no threat to the United States.
However, in a September 11, 1998 editorial in the The Washington Post, Rohrabacher strongly rebuked the Taliban for providing refuge to Osama bin Laden, mass killings of Shi'ites and ethnic Uzbeks, Turks, and Tajiks, and restrictions on the rights of Afghan women and children:
It has been no secret that bin Laden has been sheltered by the Taliban. The Clinton administration was mute while one of the most violent anti-Western Muslim sects spilled into Afghanistan from their Pakistan-based "religious schools" and took control of the capital. We remained paralyzed while they moved to destroy moderate Muslim forces. While administration officials expressed concern of the Taliban's complete denial of rights for women, it was little more than lip service. Even modest support from the United States for moderate Muslim forces in Afghanistan and serious political pressure on Pakistan could have thwarted the takeover of this strategically important country by these militant extremists. The danger of the spread of fanaticism expressed by the newly independent republics of Central Asia was smugly ignored.
During the summer of 2001, Rohrabacher made a trip to Qatar that was paid for by the Islamic Institute and the Government of Qatar, according to Rohrabacher’s financial disclosure forms. While in Qatar, Rohrabacher, Grover Norquist, and Khaled Saffuri met with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil. Wakil reportedly asked for help in increasing the amount of foreign aid sent by the United States to Afghanistan, apparently in exchange for U.S. oil company UNOCAL being allowed to construct of an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. If Rohrabacher was conducting diplomacy, he was in violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits citizens from doing so if not in an official capacity. Rohrabacher told wire service reporters who were present in Doha, Qatar at the time that he had discussed a “peace plan” with the Taliban. But Norquist, a close associate of Rohrabacher, said that the meeting happened accidentally and that it included Rohrabacher yelling at them about blowing up the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.
The Taliban later announced in Kabul that it had rejected what it considered were unreasonable demands by the U.S. side. Rohrabacher’s staff would not answer questions about the Taliban talks.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Rohrabacher claimed that the attacks were due to incompetence on the part of the Clinton administration.
In May 2006, Rohrabacher, through his press secretary, announced that he will return the $23,000. The decision was made public shortly before Medawar took responsibility in a United States District Court for bilking about $3.4 million from about 50 investors.
On April 17, 2007, while defending the Bush administration's program of extraordinary rendition during a House hearing on transatlantic relations, Rohrabacher stated that the unfair treatment of one innocent suspect is an acceptable "unfortunate consequence" of holding others who would otherwise be free to commit terror acts. After receiving boos and groans from the gallery, Rohrabacher responded, "Well I hope it's your families, I hope it's your families that suffer the consequences." Rohrabacher was subsequently interrupted by protesters wearing orange jumpsuits who were removed from the gallery. For his comment that imprisoning and torturing one innocent person was a fair price to pay for locking up 50 terrorists who would "go out and plant a bomb and kill 20,000 people, Rohrabacher was named Countdown with Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" on April 25.
His wife also serves as his campaign manager; however, under a proposed ethics reform bill that bans spousal employment, this practice may soon become illegal. She has received an estimated $169,000 total of campaign funds over the past three election cycles, including $57,000 in the 2006 election cycle. In the last quarter of 2007, she took out $10,844, or about half of the campaign's spending. Commenting on the proposed change,Rohrabacher said "It's gonna hurt me. My family would be deprived of that income. I think it's baloney. I think it's just a way of not having to look at issues by making it a personal matter.
Brian Doherty writes that "Out west a California Libertarian Alliance (CLA), with Dana Rohrabacher and Shawn Steel ... as chief organizers, often in cooperation with Robert LeFevre (freshly relocated there), ran huge mass meetings and conferences with names, such as the Left/Right Festival of Mind Liberation, and featuring speakers ranging from Mises to Hess, from LeFevre to ex-SDSer Carl Oglesby. Also, "[Rohrabacher] was sent out on a shoestring [by LeFevre] to sing his anarcho-LeFevrian folk songs at college campuses across the nation to help turn right-wingers into LeFevre-style libertarians. Rohrabacher is known today to the residents of Orange County as their congressman.
Rohrabacher drifted towards the mainstream along with billionaire funder of libertarian causes Charles Koch. He worked for a while in the early 1970s as an editorial writer for The Register (today called The Orange County Register) newspaper in Santa Ana, California, then a conservative newspaper with a Libertarian bent.
According to Doherty, "By the 1980s, a calmer Rohrabacher was a Reagan speechwriter, and pure anticommunism seemed to be motivating him more than his old-school libertarianism. ... [He] tells me that 'we did what young people always do: carried our ideals out to the very farthest logical extension. Once you push abstract theory out too far in reality it becomes unworkable.' ... 'I believed we should go for no government. And of course it doesn't take you long to realize that's not going to be too much a part of the public debate.'
Rohrabacher remained an amateur musician who in the late 1980s appeared, alongside Chris Cox, to sing at the Orange County Press Club's musical lampooning annual political events.