AKA Thomas James Vilsack
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack was informally called "Kenneth" when he was placed in a Catholic orphanage as a newborn. He was about five months old when he was adopted by Bud and Dolly Vilsack, heirs to Pittsburg's Iron City Brewery. It was a fairly well-off family until Vilsack's early teens, when some of his father's real estate investments soured, and his mother endured drug and alcohol addictions, eventually recovering. Young Vilsack was sent to a prestigious private school, where he was elected class vice president. He met his wife in college in the early 1970s, reportedly introducing himself with the line, "Are you a Humphrey or a Nixon supporter?" He studied law in New York, then settled in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where he went to work at his father-in-law's legal firm.
About ten years after Vilsack arrived in town, the Mayor was shot and killed by a disgruntled resident during a City Council meeting. In the aftermath of the assassination, Vilsack was elected Mayor and went on to serve three terms. He moved on to the State Senate in 1992, and in 1999 he became Iowa's first Democratic Governor in about three decades. In two terms as Governor he rarely made news beyond Iowa, but on November 30, 2006, Vilsack announced his candidacy for President in 2008 at a "community pot luck dinner" in Mount Pleasant.
Politically, he is a middle-of-the-road Democrat. As Governor, Vilsack brags of leading the war on methamphetamine, building a new high-tech $50-million crime lab, tripling the number of Iowa children covered by health insurance, extending prison sentences and strengthens post-prison supervision of sex criminals, and organizing a statewide drug-purchasing program that reduces the price of prescription medicines. As a Presidential candidate, Vilsack has called for decreasing America's dependence on foreign oil, and exploration of alternative energy sources.
Since 2005, he has been the chairman of the New Democrat Movement, a group largely funded by oil companies, military contractors, and corporate interests that works to ensure that Democratic Party candidates take centrist positions. The DLC and most of its member-politicians supported NAFTA, CAFTA, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They opposed any efforts to block Samuel Alito from reaching the US Supreme Court, and criticized such progressives as Howard Dean and Tom Harkin as "out-of-touch liberals".
Vilsack's wife, Christie, is a former school teacher and newspaper columnist. She was criticized by the hypersensitive for a 1994 article in which she wrote, "I am fascinated at the way some African-Americans speak to each other in an English I struggle to understand, then switch to standard English when the situation requires." The Vilsacks have two adult children, both attorneys.
Father: Bud Vilsack (adoptive father, real estate salesman)
Mother: Dolly Vilsack (adoptive mother, homemaker)
Sister: Alice (b. 1944)
Wife: Ann Christine Bell Vilsack ("Christie", school teacher-news columnist, m. 18-Aug-1973)
Son: Jess William Vilsack (attorney)
Son: Douglas James Vilsack (attorney)
High School: Shady Side Academy, Pittsburgh, PA (1968)
University: BA, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY (1972)
Law School: JD, Albany Law School, Union University, Albany, NY (1975)
US Secretary of Agriculture (21-Jan-2009 to present)
Governor of Iowa (15-Jan-1999 to 12-Jan-2007)
Iowa State Senate (1992-98)
Mayor Mount Pleasant, IA (1987-92)
Left at Orphanage
American Bar Association
Hillary Clinton for President
Iowa State Bar Association
Jobs for America's Graduates Board of Directors
Delta Upsilon Fraternity
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