Bruce Babbitt

Last updated
Bruce Babbitt
Bruce Babbitt by Gage Skidmore.jpg
47th United States Secretary of the Interior
In office
January 22, 1993 January 2, 2001
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Manuel Lujan
Succeeded by Gale Norton
16th Governor of Arizona
In office
March 4, 1978 January 5, 1987
Preceded by Wesley Bolin
Succeeded by Evan Mecham
19th Attorney General of Arizona
In office
January 6, 1975 March 4, 1978
Governor Raúl Castro
Wesley Bolin
Preceded by Warner Lee
Succeeded by Jack LaSota
Personal details
Bruce Edward Babbitt

(1938-06-27) June 27, 1938 (age 80)
Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Hattie Coons
Education University of Notre Dame (BS)
Newcastle University (MSc)
Harvard University (LLB)

Bruce Edward Babbitt (born June 27, 1938) is an American attorney and politician from the state of Arizona. A member of the Democratic Party, Babbitt served as the 16th governor of Arizona from 1978 to 1987, and as the United States Secretary of the Interior from 1993 through 2001.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

United States Secretary of the Interior head of the Department of the Interior in the United States government

The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior in the United States is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources; it oversees such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Park Service. The Secretary also serves on and appoints the private citizens on the National Park Foundation board. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The U.S. Department of the Interior should not be confused with the Ministries of the Interior as used in many other countries. Ministries of the Interior in these other countries correspond primarily to the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. Cabinet and secondarily to the Department of Justice.


He won election as Arizona Attorney General after graduating from Harvard Law School. He became Governor of Arizona after the death of his predecessor, Wesley Bolin. Babbitt won election to a full term in 1978 and won re-election in 1982. He helped found the Democratic Leadership Council and sought the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out of the race after the first set of primaries.

Arizona Attorney General attorney general for the U.S. state of Arizona

The Arizona Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state of Arizona, in the United States. This state officer is the head of the Arizona Department of Law, more commonly known as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The state attorney general is a constitutionally-established officer, elected by the people of the state to a four-year term.

Harvard Law School law school in Cambridge

Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1817, it is the oldest continuously operating law school in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. It is ranked first in the world by the QS World University Rankings and the ARWU Shanghai Ranking.

Wesley Bolin American politician

Wesley Bolin was an American Democratic Party politician who served as the 15th governor of the U.S. state of Arizona between 1977 and 1978. His five months in office mark the shortest term in office for any Arizona governor. Prior to ascending to the Governorship, Bolin was the longest serving Secretary of State of Arizona, where he served for 28 years.

After his presidential campaign, Babbit served as head of the League of Conservation Voters. He served as the Secretary of the Interior for the duration of Bill Clinton's presidency. Clinton also strongly considered nominating Babbitt to the Supreme Court after vacancies arose in 1993 and 1994. After leaving public office in 2001, Babbitt became an attorney with Latham & Watkins.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is an American environmental advocacy group. LCV says that it "advocates for sound environmental laws and policies, holds elected officials accountable for their votes and actions, and elects pro-environment candidates." The organization pursues its goals through voter education, voter mobilization, and direct contributions to political candidates. LCV includes 29 state affiliates. LCV was founded in 1969-1970 by environmentalist Marion Edey, with support from David Brower. The group's current president is Gene Karpinski. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has over two million members.

Bill Clinton 42nd president of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Prior to the presidency, he was the governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981, and again from 1983 to 1992, and the attorney general of Arkansas from 1977 to 1979. A member of the Democratic Party, Clinton was ideologically a New Democrat and many of his policies reflected a centrist "Third Way" political philosophy.

President Bill Clinton made two appointments to the Supreme Court of the United States, both during his first term.

Personal life

Babbitt was born into a prominent Roman Catholic Flagstaff, Arizona family, the son of Frances B. (Perry) and Paul James Babbitt Sr. [1] [2] He graduated from the University of Notre Dame, attended Newcastle University in the United Kingdom on a Marshall Scholarship, and then received his law degree at Harvard Law School. [3]

Flagstaff, Arizona City in Arizona

Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

University of Notre Dame Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, United States

The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a private Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana. The main campus covers 1,261 acres (510 ha) in a suburban setting and it contains a number of recognizable landmarks, such as the Golden Dome, the Word of Life mural, the Notre Dame Stadium, and the Basilica. The school was founded on November 26, 1842, by Edward Sorin, who was also its first president.

Newcastle University university in England, United Kingdom

Newcastle University is a public research university in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. The university can trace its origins to a School of Medicine and Surgery, established in 1834, and to the College of Physical Science, founded in 1871. These two colleges came to form one division of the federal University of Durham, with the Durham Colleges forming the other. The Newcastle colleges merged to form King's College in 1937. In 1963, following an Act of Parliament, King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

He married Harriet Coons (known as Hattie) in 1968. She has worked as an attorney in Arizona and Washington, D.C., and served as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States from 1993 to 1997, and as Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration. [4]

Harriet "Hattie" Coons Babbitt, is an attorney and former U.S. government official, who served as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States from 1993 to 1997, and as Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton Administration. In addition to her government service, she has also practiced as an attorney in both Arizona and Washington, D.C, most recently working at the law office of Jennings Strouss since July, 2006. She is also Vice Chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and previously served on the organization's Board of Directors from 1988 to 1993.

United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States

The following is a list of people who have served as United States Ambassador to the Organization of American States, or the full title, Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency of the United States federal government that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance. With a budget of over $27 billion, USAID is one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance—the highest in the world in absolute dollar terms.

As attorney for the Scottsdale Daily Progress newspaper, Babbitt worked with publisher Jonathan Marshall in crafting legislation that became Arizona's "open meeting law."

Jonathan Marshall was an American newspaper publisher and philanthropist.

Political career


Babbitt signing legislation in the Governor's Office in Phoenix, Arizona. Billy Davis In Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt Office.jpg
Babbitt signing legislation in the Governor's Office in Phoenix, Arizona.

In the state election of November 1974, Babbitt overcame Republican incumbent Warner Lee to become Attorney General of Arizona. [5]

He succeeded Wesley Bolin as governor when Bolin died in office on March 4, 1978. Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor; the Arizona Secretary of State, if holding office by election, stands first in line in case the governor vacates his or her post. However, Rose Mofford, then secretary of state, had been appointed to her post and thus was not eligible to become governor according to the Arizona state constitution. Babbitt, as attorney general, was next in the line of succession, and thus served the balance of the term to which Raúl Héctor Castro had originally been elected in 1974. Babbitt was elected for a full four-year term later in 1978, and again in 1982. He did not run for a third term in 1986.

In 1982, Babbitt intervened in negotiations between the Cochise County sheriff and leaders of the Christ Miracle Healing Church and Center over the release of church members whom the church was hiding from facing charges for assault. The church, which had been implicated in bomb-making, would play a central role in the Miracle Valley shootout later that year. In 1983, Babbitt sent the Arizona National Guard to the strike against the Phelps Dodge mining company in Morenci, Arizona.

With the retirement of Republican Barry Goldwater from the U.S. Senate in 1986, many in Arizona expected Babbitt to oppose Representative John McCain for the seat. In a surprise press conference in 1985, Babbitt instead announced he would forgo the Senate race to concentrate on a White House bid in 1988.

Babbitt is the only Arizona governor to have completed two four-year terms with nine years of service. George W.P. Hunt is Arizona's longest-serving governor, however, with 17 years of total service and seven terms.

National work

In 1979, Babbitt was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve as a commissioner on the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a six-month investigation of the March 1979 accident at a commercial nuclear power plant at Middletown, Pennsylvania. [6] Babbitt spoke at the 1980 Democratic National Convention, which nominated incumbent Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for president.

A founding member of the Democratic Leadership Council and the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association in 1985, Babbitt sought the Democratic Party's 1988 nomination for President of the United States. Among his proposals was a national sales tax to remedy the then-record budget deficits piled up during the several past administrations. He enjoyed positive press attention (called a "boomlet" in USA Today), but after finishing out of the top tier of candidates in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, he dropped out of the race. In an intentional reference to Richard Nixon (who said after losing the California governorship in the 1962 election that the press "won't have [me] to kick around anymore"), Babbitt joked in his last campaign press conference that the media "won't have Bruce Babbitt to puff up anymore." The Washington Post reported that Babbitt dropped this line from the prepared text of his withdrawal speech. [7]

Clinton administration

Babbitt as Secretary of the Interior in Washington, D.C. circa 1993 Bruce babbitt.jpg
Babbitt as Secretary of the Interior in Washington, D.C. circa 1993

After leading the League of Conservation Voters, Babbitt served for eight years, 1993–2001, as the United States Secretary of the Interior during Bill Clinton's administration.

Babbitt worked to protect scenic and historic areas of America's federal public lands. In 2000 Babbitt created the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of 15 U.S. National Monuments and 14 National Conservation Areas to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management in such a way as to keep them "healthy, open, and wild."

In 1993, Babbitt was seriously considered by President Clinton to replace retiring United States Supreme Court Justice Byron White. Due to his lead on environmental issues, however, Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead. Clinton again considered Babbitt for the high court in 1994 when Harry Blackmun announced his retirement. Babbitt was passed over again, this time in favor of Stephen Breyer, due to Breyer's immense support in the U.S. Senate, primarily because he was close to Sen. Ted Kennedy.[ citation needed ]

In 1998 Babbitt was the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into whether he had lied to Congress about having denied an Indian casino license in Wisconsin in return for political donations. The controversy has been called Wampumgate. Babbitt was cleared of wrongdoing in the special prosecutor's final report on the investigation the following year. [8]

Post-political life

Babbitt with then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. Bruce Babbitt and Ken Salazar.jpg
Babbitt with then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Babbitt took a job as chief counsel of the environmental litigation department of Latham & Watkins, an international law firm, after leaving the Department of the Interior. During his time at Latham & Watkins, Babbitt offended many environmentalists by taking on two clients trying to build large developments near the coastline. Babbitt defended both projects, one on Hearst Corporation land in central California and the other on the Ahmanson Ranch north of Los Angeles. [9]

Babbitt has attracted the ire of some environmentalists and Native American groups for his representation of the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort and its effort to expand the resort and use waste water to make artificial snow. [10]

He serves as trustee of the World Wildlife Fund Secretariat Trustees in the U.S., and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations until 2012. [11] He has also served on the Board of Directors since 2009 for the Amazon Conservation Association, whose mission is to conserve the biological diversity of the Amazon. [12] Babbitt is also a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One. [13]

See also

Further reading

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  1. "Candidate's Father Dies in Flagstaff". Associated Press News Archive. 1988-01-25. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  2. H, Cori (2003-01-23). "Paul James Babbitt". Find A Grave. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  3. Arizona Governor Bruce Edward Babbitt Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine , National Governors Association.
  4. Harriet C. Babbitt-Jennings Strouss Attorneys at Law Archived January 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Arizona Voting". The Gallup Independent. Gallup, NM. AP. November 6, 1974. Retrieved October 16, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  6. Walker, J. Samuel (2006). Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective. University of California Press. p. 281. ISBN   9780520246836.
  7. Schwartz, Maralee; Ifill, Gwen (1998-02-21). "Babbitt's Opening Line--Almost". The Washington Post. pp. A12.
  8. Miller, Bill; Vise, David A. (1999-10-14). "Babbitt Cleared in Casino Probe". The Washington Post. pp. A1. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  9. Sterngold, James (13 March 2002). "Former Interior Secretary to Develop Water Projects in the Middle East". New York, New York. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  10. "". Archived from the original on 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2007-07-02., "Can anyone really trust Bruce Babbitt?
  11. "Membership Roster - Council on Foreign Relations". 6 January 2012. Archived from the original on 6 January 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  12. "Amazon Conservation Association" . Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  13. "ReFormers Caucus". Issue One. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Warner Lee
Attorney General of Arizona
Succeeded by
Jack LaSota
Political offices
Preceded by
Wesley Bolin
Governor of Arizona
Succeeded by
Evan Mecham
Preceded by
Manuel Lujan
United States Secretary of the Interior
Succeeded by
Gale Norton
Party political offices
Preceded by
Raúl Castro
Democratic nominee for Governor of Arizona
1978, 1982
Succeeded by
Carolyn Warner
Preceded by
Chuck Robb
Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Richard Riley