Bob Livingston

From Academic Kids

Robert Linligthgow Livingston, Jr., better known as Bob Livingston, (born April 30, 1943) is a United States politician from Louisiana. A Republican, he is most famous for being desginated as Newt Gingrich's successor as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, only to be forced to resign in a sex-scandal.

Livingston was born in Colorado Springs, but spent most of his youth in New Orleans. He graduated from Tulane University in 1968, his education having been broken up by a stint in the United States Navy. He earned a law degree from Tulane in 1970. Out of college, he joined the law practice of Dave Treen, who would become Louisiana's first Republican Congressman and governor since Reconstruction. Treen had been active in the Louisiana Republican Party back in the days when it barely existed, and this allowed Livingston to make valuable connections in Republican circles. Livingston later worked for the U. S. Attorney for Louisiana's Eastern District, the Orleans Parish (New Orleans) district attorney's office and the Louisiana state attorney general.

While Livingston was serving as head of the state attorney general's organized crime unit in 1976, he won the Republican nomination for Louisiana's 1st Congressional District, based in the wealthy New Orleans suburbs and including a small part of the city itself. The seat had opened up when 36-year incumbent and House Armed Services Committee chairman F. Edward Hebert retired. Livingston narrowly lost to one-term state legislator Richard Tonry. However, allegations surfaced of "tombstone" votes for Tonry in both the primary and general elections. Tonry was forced to resign in May 1977 and lost the Democratic nomination for the special election in August to state legislator Ron Faucheux. However, Faucheux was dogged by allegations that he was gay, and Livingston won by 18 points, becoming the first Republican to represent New Orleans since Reconstruction. He was elected to a full term with 86 percent of the vote in 1978 and was reelected 10 more times, the last nine of those unopposed. He ran for governor in 1987 but finished a distant third, 10 points short of gaining a spot in the runoff.

Although very well-known in Louisiana, Livingston was a relatively low-key congressman for his first 18 years in Washington. However, he managed early in his career to land a spot on the Appropriations Committee, which allowed him to steer millions of dollars to his district. This, along with his very conservative stances on almost all issues, made him very popular with his constituents (most of whom had never been represented by a Republican before). He also received many contributions from defense contractors.

Livingston first came to national attention in 1995, when he was named chairman of the Appropriations Committee after the Republican takeover of the House. This instantly made him one of the most powerful members of Congress. During one committee session, he brandished a machete to demonstrate his seriousness as a budget-cutter.

During the Bill Clinton presidency and the Monica Lewinsky scandals, Livingston was one of many Republicans who demanded Clinton's impeachment for perjury. After Gingrich was forced to resign as Speaker (and ultimately from the House) due to Republican losses at the 1998 elections, Livingston announced that he was not only running but had lined up enough support to win. He was nominated as the Republican candidate for Speaker without opposition. As the Republicans had narrowly retained their majority, this effectively made him Speaker-elect.

Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who detested the Republican focus on Clinton's sex life, placed an article in Hustler offering up to $1,000,000 for information on sexual indiscretions by Republican officials. Flynt received evidence that Livingston had strayed outside of his marriage on many occasions, and was preparing to publish this information. Livingston found out that Flynt had secured the evidence of his infidelity. During debate over the impeachment resolution on December 19, 1998, Livingston surprised everyone by stepping down as Speaker-elect and announced he would resign from the House in May 1999. He has since retired from public life and is now one of the most influential lobbyists in Washington DC.


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