November 29, 2011 in Nation/World

Frank retiring from Congress

James Oliphant Tribune Washington bureau
 

Frank
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, an unapologetic, acid-tongued warrior for liberals and a favorite target of conservatives, said he will not seek re-election next year, ending a more than three-decade career in Congress.

Frank, 71, played a key role in the government response to the meltdown of the financial markets in 2008. Then the chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, he was a key player in negotiations with President George W. Bush’s administration that produced the bailout of Wall Street banks and financial institutions.

Frank later was the co-author of legislation, along with former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., that tightened the regulatory net on those same institutions, an act that has been savaged by GOP presidential candidates this year as a drag on job creation. Republicans also have frequently blamed Frank for the subprime mortgage crisis because of his close ties with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a charge that Frank has regularly denied.

At a news conference Monday in Newton, Mass., Frank cited the redrawn congressional map in Massachusetts as a factor in his decision to retire. The revised district – along with voters’ anti-incumbent mood – might have triggered a difficult re-election fight.

“I think I would have won, but … it would have been a tough campaign,” Frank said.

Frank is also the best-known openly gay politician in America. Frank revealed his sexual orientation early in his career, almost 25 years ago. In 1990, he was formally reprimanded by the House for his association with a male prostitute.

Frank lost his chairmanship of the Financial Services committee when the GOP reclaimed the House last year. Rep. Maxine Waters, of California, is in line to succeed him as the panel’s top Democrat.


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