RSSCategory: Barney Frank

My John Dingell Story

| February 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

John Dingell Speaking on the Floor

I was a relatively new legislative assistant on Capitol Hill in 1984 when my most exciting experience to date was about to occur.  I was going to get to go onto the House floor for the first time to staff Congressman Barney Frank who was offering an amendment to a major piece of environmental legislation, the Superfund reauthorization bill.  Barney had agreed to offer an amendment on behalf of the environmental community to increase the legal liability of polluters for their bad acts.  It was a perennial amendment that environmentalists supported and was usually voted down for reasons unimportant to this story.

It was relatively early in Barney’s congressional career, a period during which he generally didn’t rely heavily on staff.  Because he was so smart and such a skilled legislator, the role of staff was simply to supply him basic information, not advise him on strategy or tactics.  Thus, he didn’t think it would matter much that he was going to the House Floor with an amendment staffed by a guy who only a few years before was stocking shelves in a supermarket.  Boy, was he wrong. Continue Reading

Barney Frank Biography

| October 16, 2009 | 0 Comments

There is a new biography out on my old boss, Barney Frank, written by Stuart Weissberg. I was flattered to be a source for the book. The following is the short review I wrote on

“First, a disclaimer. I was a source for this book. That said, the book is an extraordinary political biography that describes the life of an amazing politician, but also of an era. While the term, “the spirit of the sixties” has been trivialized over time, this book highlights the best of that decade by showing the genuine idealism at its heart. Moreover, this “spirit” is transcended to the degree that Barney Frank combined – and combines – the idealism of that era with a practical approach to politics. His goal was to have a measurable effect on the lives of poor people, who were then and are today, neglected by the political elites at all levels of government. This book shows how he did this and is a very valuable primer for those driven by results in public policy rather than scoring political points. Even to this day, in his very powerful position as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Frank remains true both to those ideals and to the practical approach to politics. Of course, the book is also peppered with endless examples of Rep. Franks wicked wit, which provides chuckles throughout.

“Having proudly worked for Barney Frank, I can’t claim to be objective about the book. But I can report on its accuracy, which is scrupulous. I was deeply involved with a particularly period in Rep. Frank’s career and I could not find a single error of fact or even interpretation on things on which I had personal knowledge. I have to say, I was surprised by the candor I found in this authorized biography. This is a “warts and all” account that is very honest about some of Rep. Frank’s personal struggles and, shall we say, challenging personality traits.

“In the end, however, this is a story of a political leader who remains uncorrupted by the power he currently wields. He entered politics to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Unlike many, he has stayed true to his original ideals and I believe the country is fortunate to have him at the center of our current economic travails.”