THE STEALTH CONGRESSMAN

EIGHT-TERM REPRESENTATIVE BOB STUMP STANDS TO BECOME THE SENIOR MEMBER OF THE ARIZONA DELEGATION. SO HOW COME YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF HIM?

Stump takes special satisfaction in the "Stump-Pepper Angola Amendment," which he sponsored with the late Claude Pepper, a Florida Democrat, in 1986. The measure deleted a section from that year's intelligence authorization bill that would have made aid to Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi and his guerilla forces subject to a joint resolution of Congress. To this day, the White House can offer covert aid to the Angolan rebels.

The amendment was so controversial that the Reagan administration had given up on any hope of passage, Stump recalls. He helped coax more than 60 Democrats over to his side.

At the time, the national press quoted Stump: "It's a tough world, and some things must be done in secret to be successful." There is some evidence that Stump and three other congressmen were in the loop during the Iran-contra affair, although many members of Congress expressed outrage that they were not informed of the covert funding plan.

According to Colonel Oliver North's notebooks--obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C.--Stump and representatives Bill McCollum, Henry Hyde and Bob Livingston met with North and then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane on March 4, 1985. The notes make clear that a private covert funding plan for the contras was discussed. At the time, North's private fund-raising efforts were at the center of congressional and criminal investigations of Iran-contra. Stump made no public disclosure of his meeting with North and McFarlane. At least one national publication, the New Republic, accused Stump of a "failure of responsibility toward the institution of Congress." The magazine also called for an ethics investigation, which never materialized.

When New Times reminds him of the episode, Stump says, "That involved intelligence and I cannot comment on it."

In 1982, Pat Bosch criticized Stump for his involvement in the Western Goals Foundation, an anti-Communist organization founded by Larry McDonald, a conservative Democrat from Georgia. Bosch says today that it was Stump's affiliation with the group that prompted her to run against him; she worried that Stump would share classified information with the WGF.

According to a 1981 article in the Atlanta Journal, the organization had offices in Virginia and West Germany, and at the time was creating a database "into which is fed information on terrorist activities and groups and individuals he [McDonald] considers to be subversive."

The Journal listed that Stump was a member of the WGF's board of directors. Stump doesn't recall that, but says he was involved. Stump says that involvement ended in 1983, after McDonald died in the Soviets' downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.

Years later, some of the organizers of the WGF were linked with the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty, a "charity" that was part of North's Byzantine money-and-arms operation, often known as "The Enterprise." Stump doesn't welcome questions about the Western Goals Foundation. "I don't understand why in the hell somebody would go back 10 or 12 or 14 years ago," he says. @rule:

@body:As a kid growing up in Tolleson, Stump never considered public office, though his father, Jess Stump, served for many years on a local school board and spent three years in the state legislature. Bob wanted to go to medical school, his interest sparked by duty as a medic in the Pacific during World War II.

"I guess the desire really wasn't there, or I would have done a little better" in premed, he admits. Stump transferred his science credits at Arizona State University to the agriculture department, got his degree and joined his father in the family's fields. He was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist--you don't get any stricter than that"--and remains deeply religious today.

His three children are all in the medical profession. "I attribute that to working them too hard on the farm," he jokes with pride.

Once Bob Stump sought and won a seat in the Arizona Legislature in 1958, however, he was hooked. He has sought office every two years since. But whether in Phoenix or Washington, Stump (who divorced many years ago and never remarried) remained close to his father, returning during recesses and on weekends to the farm.

Jess Stump died in 1990, at age 89. Bob took the loss hard, friends say. Charlie Thompson, who served as Stump's first administrative assistant in Washington, wells up as he remembers a political event at which Stump paid spontaneous, quiet tribute to his father.

It was an unusual move for the assiduously private Stump, but Thompson and others who are close to the congressman say he has an emotional side. Stump agrees ruefully, recalling that when he first took office, he often contacted constituents personally to deliver good news.

"Whether it's a lost person or a lost check, I'd be the one to call them. Then the woman'd start crying and I'd start crying. I gave that crap up a long time ago," Stump says. Thompson met Stump while serving as an intern at the legislature. He rose through the ranks to head the legislature's research division, and jumped at the chance to accompany Stump to D.C. in 1977. The Cannon Building, which houses Stump's office in Washington, is the oldest and most regal of the House office buildings. It has high ceilings, marble hallways and rats. Thompson laughs, recalling that Stump set traps, bought new carpet for the office and climbed onto a ledge outside the office to clean the windows, oblivious to the notion that members of Congress just didn't do such things.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Phoenix Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...