Alan Simpson (American politician)

Alan Simpson
Alan Kooi Simpson.jpg
Chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
In office
February 18, 2010 – December 1, 2010
Serving with Erskine Bowles
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Senate Minority Whip
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1995
LeaderBob Dole
Preceded byAlan Cranston
Succeeded byWendell Ford
Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1987
LeaderBob Dole
Preceded byTed Stevens
Succeeded byAlan Cranston
United States Senator
from Wyoming
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byClifford Hansen
Succeeded byMike Enzi
Personal details
Born (1931-09-02) September 2, 1931 (age 87)
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ann Schroll
Children3, including Colin
RelativesMilward Simpson (Father)
Pete Simpson (Brother)
EducationUniversity of Wyoming (BA, LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1954–1956
RankSecond Lieutenant
Unit5th Infantry
2nd Armored Division

Alan Kooi Simpson (born September 2, 1931) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party, who represented Wyoming in the United States Senate (1979–97). He also served as Co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Democratic Co-chair Erskine Bowles of North Carolina.

Born in Denver, Colorado, Simpson graduated from the University of Wyoming's law school (1958). Simpson served in the Wyoming House of Representatives (1965–77) and won election to the United States Senate (1978). His father, Milward Simpson, had served in the same seat (1962–67). Simpson served as the Senate Republican Whip (1985–95). After serving three terms in the Senate, Simpson declined to seek re-election in 1996.

Since leaving office, Simpson has practiced law and taught at different universities. He also served on the Continuity of Government Commission, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the Iraq Study Group. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him to co-chair the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which made several recommendations on ways to reduce the national debt. He has been a vocal proponent of amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and allow Congress to set reasonable limits on campaign spending in U.S. Elections.

Early life

Simpson was born in Denver, Colorado, the son of the former Lorna Kooi, and Milward Lee Simpson. His middle name, "Kooi", comes from his mother and maternal grandfather, whose parents were Dutch immigrants.[1] In his youth, Simpson was a Boy Scout, and once visited Japanese American Boy Scouts who, along with their families, had been interned near Ralston, Wyoming, during World War II. There, he developed a friendship with Norm Mineta, who later became a Democratic U.S. representative from California, and the United States Secretary of Transportation in the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush. Mineta and Simpson served together in Congress, and on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and remain close friends.[2]

Simpson has an older brother, Peter K. Simpson of Cody, a historian and a former administrator at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, who served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1981 to 1984, having represented Sheridan County, while he was then an administrator at Sheridan College. Pete Simpson was the 1986 Republican gubernatorial nominee, having sought the office while his younger brother was serving in the U.S. Senate.

One of the Simpsons' babysitters as a young boy was the future Lieutenant Governor and Education Superintendent of Louisiana, 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 for a postgraduate year. He graduated in 1954 from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science degree, and in 1958 with a Juris Doctor. Like his brother, he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at the University of Wyoming.

In 1954, he married the former Susan Ann Schroll, who was a fellow UW student from Greybull, Wyoming. He served in the United States Army in Germany from 1955 to 1956, with the 10th Infantry Regiment, Fifth Infantry Division, and with the 12th Armored Infantry Battalion, Second Armored Division.

Simpson had several run-ins with the law during his youth. An amicus brief filed before the United States Supreme Court in the juvenile imprisonment cases Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida,[3] states:

In Simpson’s words to this Court, “I was a monster.”

In that brief, in support of the claimant in the Supreme Court case, Simpson admitted that, as a juvenile, he had been on federal probation for shooting mailboxes and punching a cop and that he "was a monster".[4]

One day in Cody, Wyoming, when Simpson was in high school, he and some friends “went out to do damage.” They went to an abandoned war relocation structure and decided to “torch” it. They committed arson on federal property, a crime now punishable by up to twenty years in prison if no one is hurt, and punishable by up to life in prison if the arson causes a person’s death. Luckily for Simpson, no one was injured in the blaze.

Simpson not only played with fire, but also with guns. He played a game with his friends in which they shot at rocks close to one another, at times using bullets they stole from the local hardware store. The goal of the game was to come as close as possible to striking someone without actually doing so. Again, Simpson was lucky: no one was killed or seriously injured, or caught by their parents.

Simpson and his friends went shooting throughout their community. They fired their rifles at mailboxes, blowing holes in several and killing a cow. They fired their weapons at a road grader. “We just raised hell,” Simpson says. Federal authorities charged Simpson with destroying government property and Simpson pleaded guilty. He received two years of probation and was required to make restitution from his own funds – funds that he was supposed to obtain by holding down a job.

As he [Simpson] has described it, “The older you get, the more you realize . . . your own attitude is stupefying, and arrogant, and cocky, and a miserable way to live.” [5]

Simpson stated "I was just dumb and rebellious and stupid. And a different person." and then added, "You're not who are when you're 16 or 18. You're dumb, and you don't care and you think you are eternal."

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