Alan K. Simpson

Alan Kooi Simpson (born September 2, 1931, in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.) is a Republican politician who served from 1979 to 1997 as a United States senator from Wyoming. His father, Milward L. Simpson, was also a member of the U.S. Senate from Wyoming (1962–1967) and a former governor of Wyoming (1955–1959) as well.

Early life

As a young man, Simpson was a Boy Scout, and visited Japanese American Boy Scouts who, along with their families, had been interned in Wyoming during World War II. There, he developed a friendship with Norman Mineta, who later became a U.S. Congressman and cabinet member. They both served together on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and remain close friends.

One of Simpson's babysitters as a young boy was the future lieutenant governor and education superintendent of Louisiana, William J. "Bill" Dodd, who played baseball for a time as a young man in Cody with teammate Milward Simpson.

Alan Simpson graduated from Cody High School in Cody, Wyoming, in 1949 and attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in 1950. He graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and in 1958 with a Juris Doctor degree. He served in the United States Army in Germany from 1955–1956 with the 10th Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division and with the 12th Armored Infantry Battalion,Second Armored Division.

He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Wyoming.

U.S. Senate

Simpson was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 7, 1978, but was appointed to the post early on January 1, 1979, following the resignation of Clifford P. Hansen. From 1985 to 1995, Simpson was the Republican whip in the Senate, having served with then Republican Leader Robert J. "Bob" Dole of Kansas. He was chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee from 1981 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 1997 when Republicans regained control of the Senate. He also chaired the Immigration and Refugee Subcommittee of Judiciary; the Nuclear Regulation Subcommittee; the Social Security Subcommittee and the Committee on Aging. In 1995, he lost the whip's job to Trent Lott of Mississippi, and he did not seek reelection to the Senate in 1996. From 1997 to 2000, Simpson taught at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and served for two years as the Director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School.

Simpson returned to his home of Cody and practices law there with his two lawyer sons (William and Colin) in the firm of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards. The three are also partners in the firm of Burg Simpson Eldrege Hersh and Jardine of Englewood, Colorado. Colin Simpson, the third generation of his family in Wyoming politics, is a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives and a potential candidate for the U.S. Senate seat vacated on June 4, 2007, by the death of Senator Craig L. Thomas, a boyhood friend of Alan Simpson's.

After Congressional Service

Alan Simpson teaches periodically at his alma mater, the University of Wyoming at Laramie. He has completed serving as chair of the UW capital "Campaign for Distinction", which raised $204 million. That success was celebrated by the gala event, "An Extraordinary Evening", featuring former President George H.W. Bush (who had reportedly considered Simpson for the vice presidency in 1988) and Vice President Dick Cheney and wife Lynne V. Cheney (who are both honored UW alumni).

Simpson serves on the Commission for Continuity in Government. He also serves as co-chair of Americans for Campaign Reform with former Senate colleagues Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, is active with the National Commission on Writing, is on the Advisory Board of Common Good (a tort reform advocacy group), is a former member of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and is a member of the Iraq Study Group.

Simpson's father, Milward Simpson, also served in the Senate and was among six Republican members who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on constitutional grounds. Alan Simpson, however, has been an outspoken advocate for access to abortion, gay and lesbian rights, and equality for all persons regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. In an article in the Washington Post, the former senator wrote an article criticizing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy stating " 'Gay' is an artificial category that says little about a person. Our differences and prejudices pale next to our historic challenge."

In 2001, Simpson became Honorary Chairman of the Republican Unity Coalition (RUC), a gay/straight alliance within the Republican Party. In this capacity, Simpson personally recruited President Gerald R. Ford to serve on the RUC's Advisory Board. The organization has since disbanded.

In 2002, Simpson got involved in the Republican gubernatorial primary on behalf of former Democrat Eli Bebout of Riverton, the seat of Fremont County. Simpson criticized Bebout's principal conservative challenger, Raymond Breedlove Hunkins of Wheatland, the seat of Platte County in southeastern Wyoming. Bebout defeated Hunkins but then lost the general election to the Democratic nominee David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal, a former United States Attorney appointed by President Bill Clinton.

In 2006, Mr. Simpson was one of twelve contributors to the Iraq Study Group Report.

In popular culture

The June 7, 1994, edition of the now-defunct supermarket tabloid Weekly World News reported that 12 U.S. Senators were aliens from other planets, including Simpson. The Associated Press ran a follow-up piece which confirmed the tongue-in-cheek participation of Senate offices in the story. Then-Senator Simpson's spokesman Charles Pelkey, when asked about Simpson's galactic origins, told the AP: "We've got only one thing to say: Klaatu barada nikto. This was a reference to the 1951 science fiction classic film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, in which an alien arrives by flying saucer in Washington, D.C.

Simpson also played himself in a cameo appearance for the 1993 film, Dave.

See also


External links


  • Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press (ISBN 0-688-11358-3, 1997, William Morrow & Company)

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