Karen Lorraine Jacqueline Speier (// SPEAR; born May 14, 1950) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 14th congressional district, serving in Congress since 2008. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district, numbered as the 12th District from 2008 to 2013, includes the northern two-thirds of San Mateo County and the southwest quarter of San Francisco. Speier represents much of the territory that her political mentor, Leo Ryan, represented. In 1978, while working as his aide, Speier survived five gunshot wounds when Ryan was assassinated during the Jonestown massacre.
|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
|Assumed office |
April 8, 2008
|Preceded by||Tom Lantos|
|Constituency||12th district (2008–2013)|
14th district (2013–present)
|Member of the California Senate|
from the 8th district
December 7, 1998 – November 30, 2006
|Preceded by||Quentin L. Kopp|
|Succeeded by||Leland Yee|
|Member of the California State Assembly|
from the 19th district
December 1, 1986 – November 30, 1996
|Preceded by||Lou Papan|
|Succeeded by||Lou Papan|
Karen Lorraine Speier
May 14, 1950
San Francisco, California, U.S.
(m. 1987; died 1994)
|Education||University of California, Davis (BA)|
University of California, Hastings (JD)
Speier was a member of the California State Senate, representing parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties. On April 8, 2008, she won the special election for the vacated United States House of Representatives seat of the late Congressman Tom Lantos.
Early life and educationEdit
Speier was born in 1950 in San Francisco, and grew up in an apolitical family, the daughter of Nancy (née Kanchelian) and Manfred "Fred" Speier (German: [ˈʃpaɪ̯ɐ]). Her mother, who was born in Fresno of Armenian descent, lost most of her extended family in the Armenian genocide, while her father was an immigrant from Germany. He was the son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Speier took Jacqueline as her confirmation name after Jackie Kennedy. She is a graduate of Mercy High School in Burlingame. She earned a B.A. degree from the University of California, Davis, and a J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1976.
Marriage and familyEdit
Speier's first marriage was to Steven Sierra, an emergency-room doctor, in 1987. In 1988, they had a son, Jackson Kent, while she was a member of the California State Assembly. Sierra died in a car accident in 1994 at age 53. At the time, Speier was two months pregnant with their second child, a daughter she named Stephanie.
In 2001, Speier married Barry Dennis, an investment consultant.
|Q&A interview with Speier on her book Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, November 18, 2018, C-SPAN|
Speier entered politics by serving as a congressional staffer for Congressman Leo Ryan. Speier was part of his November 1978 fact-finding mission organized to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple followers, almost all of whom were American citizens who had moved to Jonestown, Guyana, with Jones in 1977 and 1978.
Several Peoples Temple members ambushed the investigative team and others boarding the plane to leave Jonestown on November 18. Five people were killed, including Ryan. While trying to shield herself from rifle and shotgun fire behind small airplane wheels with other team members, Speier was shot five times and waited 22 hours before help arrived. The same day, over 900 remaining members of the Peoples Temple died in Jonestown and Georgetown in a mass murder-suicide.
San Mateo CountyEdit
Speier's political career began with an unsuccessful run to fill the vacancy caused by Ryan's death (the seat she holds now). She lost the Democratic primary to another former Ryan staffer, G. W. "Joe" Holsinger. He lost the special election to the Republican nominee, San Mateo County Supervisor Bill Royer, who served the remaining 21 months of the term before losing to Tom Lantos.
Speier won her first election in 1980, when she ran for the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and defeated a 20-year incumbent. At the time, she was the youngest person ever elected to the board. She was reelected in 1984, and was later selected as chairwoman.
California State AssemblyEdit
In 1986, midway through her second term on the Board of Supervisors, Speier ran for the California State Assembly from a district in northern San Mateo County. She won by a few hundred votes. She was reelected four more times, the last time as the nominee of both the Democratic and Republican parties.
California State SenateEdit
State law prevented Speier from running for reelection to the Assembly in 1996, but in 1998 she was elected to the California State Senate. In 2002, she was elected to a second term with 78.2% of the vote. As a state senator, Speier was instrumental in securing $127 million to start the "Baby Bullet" express service for Caltrain, for which the commuter rail agency named a new locomotive (no. 925) after her. Speier also focused on representing consumer rights. She was termed out of the California State Senate in 2006. During her last term, she served as assistant president pro tempore of the State Senate.
Candidate for lieutenant governor of CaliforniaEdit
In 2006, Speier ran in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of California against insurance commissioner John Garamendi and state senator Liz Figueroa. In the June 6 election, Garamendi defeated Speier with 42.5% of the vote. Speier received 39.7% and Figueroa the remaining 17.8%.
2008 presidential endorsementEdit
U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit
On January 13, 2008, Speier announced she was running in the Democratic primary for the 12th District, Ryan's old district. The seat was being vacated by 14-term incumbent Tom Lantos, who announced on January 2, 2008, that he was not seeking reelection. Speier had spent much of 2007 building support to challenge Lantos in the Democratic primary.
Lantos died on February 11, 2008. Speier won a special primary election on April 8, 2008, to fill the remainder of his term, which ended in January 2009. She won an outright majority, avoiding a runoff that would have been held on June 3, coinciding with the regular primary election. She was elected to a full term in November with 75% of the vote and has been reelected three more times with no substantive opposition.
On July 11, 2008, Speier introduced her first bill, the Gasoline Savings and Speed Limit Reduction Act, which would set a national speed limit of 60 mph in urban areas and 65 mph on less-populated stretches of highway.
In a January 2016 speech on the House floor, Speier announced that she would introduce legislation requiring schools to disclose disciplinary proceedings of faculty.
On August 16, 2017, Speier advocated the use of the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to remove President Trump from office because of erratic behavior and mental instability "that place the country in great danger", following his response to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and dealings with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
On October 27, 2017, Speier, as part of the #MeToo movement, posted a video sharing her experience with sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. She said that when she was in her 20s, Joe Holsinger, a chief of staff for Representative Leo Ryan, "kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth." Speier called Congress a breeding ground for hostile work environments and called for more sexual harassment training.
Following the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States, Speier was mentioned as a possible contender for a position in his administration, owing to her experience on national security issues. She indicated she would be willing to serve in a role in the Biden administration, but was not chosen for a position.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Speier has worked to remove cases of sexual assault and serious felonies from the chain of command in the military justice system for over ten years. She introduced the I am Vanessa Guillén Act, named for Army Spc Vanessa Guillén, on September 16, 2020, and reintroduced it on May 13, 2021. The bill would remove cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment from the chain of command, make sexual harassment a standalone offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and provide a process for compensating servicemembers who survive sexual violence when the military has been negligent. She has been quoted by CNN: "This piece of legislation is going to transform a tragedy into change."
Speier introduced the Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevent Act on Jun 23, 2021, which would move the decision to prosecute serious crimes in the military from the chain of command. She has been quoted by NPR: "We're here today for the service members who have spoken out or who have suffered in silence because the message and culture in the military has been clear: Shut up, suck it up and don't rock the boat."
Speier is a critic of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter Program. She has been quoted by CNN: "To continue pouring money into building planes that have ejector seat issues, cyber vulnerabilities, flawed aerodynamics, maintenance problems, an inability to fly at full speed while using weapons, and overheating issues is borderline malfeasance."
Speier co-sponsored the Protecting NATO Skies Act of 2019 to prevent the delivery of F-35s to Turkey after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to purchase and deploy Russian S-400 air defense systems.
Speier supports legal abortion. When she took the National Political Awareness Test in 2002, she answered, "Abortions should always be legally available." The organization NARAL Pro-Choice America rated Speier as 100% on interest group ratings because she supported the choice of abortion in her voting for legislation. Also in 2008 the Planned Parenthood Organization gave Speier a 100% on her actions regarding abortion. In a February 17, 2011, speech on the House floor, Speier said that she herself had undergone an emergency D&E procedure when complications developed in a wanted pregnancy.
Speier believes in stricter gun control. According to her answers on the NPAT (National Political Awareness Test) she would like to require safety locks on all guns and background checks on prospective buyers as well as ban certain guns (other than for hunting) and strengthen state restrictions on buying and owning guns. Gun Owners of America gave her an "F" grade and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Jack Berman Advocacy Center gave her a 100% rating. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of California also gave Speier a low grade on gun rights.
Environment and energyEdit
Speier is concerned for the protection of the environment. She lists the decline of salmon on the West Coast as evidence of global warming. Speier believes global warming poses a growing danger and negatively affects the environment. When she spoke to the House on the subject, she expressed a desire "to craft a bipartisan and commonsense energy plan that makes polluters pay, provides for middle-class energy tax credits, and creates a new industry and lots of good, clean, green jobs". Speier worked to improve energy legislation with the Clean Air Rebate Act of 2009, the Home Star Act and the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
In January 2019, Speier introduced H.R. 1028, the RIGHT Act, to prevent foreign money from influencing U.S. elections. She also introduced the PUTIN Act in 2017, legislation to prevent any federal funding for a cybersecurity unit with Russia, as proposed by then President Donald Trump.
On June 27, 2019, Speier introduced a resolution condemning the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and demanding a reevaluation of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia from the Secretary of State in response to reports of numerous violations of the human rights of Saudi activists.
Speier formed the bipartisan Congressional Unexploded Ordnance/Demining Caucus in 2018 to address unexploded ordnance and mines from the U.S. and other countries throughout the world that impact post-conflict economic and social development.
Speier led the successful effort to secure funding in the FY 2020 House-passed appropriations bill for humanitarian demining assistance and ensured that unclassified Department of Defense demining research would be shared with humanitarian demining organizations.
In September 2017, as co-chair of the Ahmadiyya Caucus, Speier condemned the human rights abuses perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and supported assistance programs that help partner nations build accountable, transparent governance structures.
Speier opposed the Trump administration’s reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule, which blocks foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. health aid from providing referrals for abortion services with their own funding. Research shows that by limiting access to care, this policy has previously led to a 14% decrease in contraceptive use, 12% increase in pregnancies, and 40% increase in abortion rates. She is a cosponsor of H.R. 1055, the Global HER Act, to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule.
Speier opposed the Trump administration’s unilateral cuts to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which works in more than 150 countries to end preventable maternal deaths, provide voluntary family planning, combat gender-based violence such as child marriage, and train health care workers. She led a letter with 145 of her colleagues urging the administration to reverse its decision to withhold U.S. funding.
Speier also supports efforts to educate girls worldwide, eradicate gender-based violence, promote women’s participation in peace and security efforts, and ensure their access to jobs and an economic marketplace free from discrimination.
As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Armenian Caucus and an Armenian American, Speier works to build close U.S.-Armenia cooperation with Armenian American groups, the State Department, USAID, and the Armenian government. That includes her amendment that passed the House to provide more than $40 million to Armenian Democracy Assistance and establish direct flights between California and Yerevan.
Speier was one of 32 members of Congress to co-sign a letter of October 8, 2015, to the TSA requesting a reform in screening policies and procedures for transgender travelers.
|Democratic||G. W. Holsinger||20,908||24.3|
|Republican||Roger B. Canfield||934||1.1|
|Democratic||Charles T. Plough||731||0.8|
|American Independent||Nicholas Waeil Kudrovzeff||372||0.4|
|Peace and Freedom||Wilson Branch||310||0.4|
|Democratic||Jackie Speier (incumbent)||67,584||77.2|
|Peace and Freedom||Gene Pepi||1,732||2.0|
|Democratic||Jackie Speier (incumbent)||53,359||100|
|Democratic||Jackie Speier (incumbent)||108,428||75.1|
|Democratic||Jackie Speier (incumbent)||100,602||93.1|
|Peace and Freedom||David Reichard||7,459||6.9|
|Democratic gain from Independent|
|Democratic||Jackie Speier (incumbent)||158,999||78.2|
|Independent||Kevin Dempsey Peterson (write-in)||2||0.0|
|Invalid or blank votes|
|Peace and Freedom||Nathalie Hrizi||5,793||2.2|
|Libertarian||Kevin Dempsey Peterson||5,584||2.0|
|Libertarian||Mark Paul Williams||4,611||2.2|
|Independent||Joseph Michael Harding (write-in)||32||0.0|
|Republican||Ran S. Petel||72,705||20.7|
- This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down, by Deborah Collins Stephens, Michealene Cristini Risley, Jackie Speier, and Jan Yanehiro, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57324-305-6
- Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, by Jackie Speier, 2018, ISBN 978-1503903609
- Jackie Speier, Biographical Directory of Congress.
- Haddock, Vicki (November 16, 2003). "Jackie Speier– moving on, moving up: Survivor of Jonestown ambush plans run for lieutenant governor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
- John Wildermuth (April 9, 2008). "Voters send Jackie Speier to Washington". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Commute Fleets". Statistics & Reports. Caltrain. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- SFGate.com (September 6, 2012). "MANFRED SPEIER Obituary - San Francisco, CA". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Speier, Jackie (2018). Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back. New York, NY: Little A. p. 1. ISBN 9781503903609.
- "Calamity, Cults, and True Grit: The Incredible Life of Congresswoman Jackie Speier". Next Tribe. March 14, 2019.
- "Alumni News". Newsletter for Alumni and & Friends. University of California Hastings College of the Law. April 2007. Archived from the original on May 3, 2007. Retrieved January 27, 2008.
Recent Books by Hastings Alumni: This Is Not the Life I Ordered, coauthored by former California State Senator Jackie Speier '76.
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- "H.R.6458 - Gasoline Savings and Speed Limit Reduction Act of 2008". U.S. Congress. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
- Kramer, Miriam; Hern, Sergio. "Politician outs top astronomy professor's history of sexual harassment". Mashable. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
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- Claire Landsbaum (September 19, 2016). "A New Bill to Stop 'Rampant' Sexual Abuse, Harassment of Women in STEM Fields Will Be Proposed This Week". New York. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
- Speier, Jackie [@RepSpeier] (October 27, 2017). "I'm sharing my #MeToo moment in the hope that my colleagues, & current/former staff who feel safe to do so, will join me. #MeTooCongresspic.twitter.com/dsGFhJ5joo" (Tweet). Retrieved December 13, 2017 – via Twitter.
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- "Defense & Foreign Policy". Congresswoman Jackie Speier. Retrieved July 20, 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
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- Speier, Jackie (February 20, 2011). ""Abortion" Fuels Intolerant Thinking". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
- Jackie Speier (February 17, 2019). Full-year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. Congressional Record (Report). p. H1172.
Ms. SPEIER. Mr. Chairman, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots, because I'm one of those women he spoke about just now.
I had a procedure at 17 weeks, pregnant with a child that had moved from the vagina into the cervix, and that procedure that you just talked about was a procedure that I endured. I lost the baby....
- "Public Statements - The Voter's Self Defense System". Project Vote Smart.
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- "US House of Representatives passes Speier Amendment on additional $40 Million for Armenia". armenpress.am. Retrieved 2021-07-19.
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- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Jackie Speier and Deborah Stephens Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders seminar mp3.
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- Commencement Speaker, San Francisco State University, 2006
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- Join California Jackie Speier