AKA Chester Trent Lott, Sr.
Birthplace: Grenada, MS
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Senator from Mississippi, 1989-2007
Trent Lott was raised in the tiny, dirt-poor Mississippi town of Grenada, where his uncle was leader of the county's White Citizens Council. In his early teens his family moved to Pascagoula, a small city on the Mississippi coast, where his father found work in the busy shipyards. His parents argued constantly, and Lott says he grew into the role of peacemaker between them. He was elected student-body president at what was then all-white Pascagoula High School, and voted most popular and most likely to succeed. He also played tuba in the band.
Attending the University of Mississippi, Lott was president of his fraternity when armed federal marshals arrived in 1962 to protect James Meredith, who had enrolled as the university's first black student. Thousands of rioters tried to block Meredith's entrance, and Lott reportedly urged his frat brothers to stay away from the violence, but said the federal government "had no business sending in troops". He was at the forefront of efforts to ensure that his Sigma Nu fraternity remained all white -- not just at Ole Miss but in all its chapters at universities across America.
After law school, Lott briefly worked as a lawyer before taking a job in his Congressman's Washington office, and when his boss retired Lott ran for Congress in 1972, winning in Richard M. Nixon's Republican landslide. In 1988 he won election to the Senate, and eight years later Lott was elected majority leader by Senate Republicans.
In Congress Lott has rarely authored legislation, but he is seen as a master deal-maker behind the scenes. The insurance and oil industries are Lott's biggest campaign donors, and he has an almost perfect rating from the American Conservative Union. He has generally supported increased spending on the military, farm subsidies, and rural public-works projects, and opposed tax increases and programs that would help the poor. He supported a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit school busing in 1979, and in 1983 he voted against a holiday honoring Martin Luther King, complaining about the cost.
In the 1990s, Lott spoke at five separate meetings of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a hate group that routinely describes blacks as "genetically inferior", calls gays and lesbians "perverted sodomites", and complains that immigrants are making the US a "slimy brown mass of glop". In 1998 he spoke at the Mississippi home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, saying "Sometimes I feel closer to Jefferson Davis than any other man in America."
In 2002, Lott became suddenly controversial when he said at the 100th birthday party of Sen Strom Thurmond, "I want to say this about my state: when Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." Lott was referring to Thurmond's 1948 campaign for President on the Dixiecrat ticket's platform of "racial integrity", endorsing segregation and miscegenation statutes, and opposing "social equality" in voting rights, law enforcement, and "the misnamed civil rights program". Thurmond's campaign fliers warned that if Harry S. Truman were re-elected, "anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the land and our way of life in the South will be gone forever."
In the subsequent uproar, Lott apologized eloquently: "I grew up in an environment that condoned policies and views that we now know were wrong and immoral, and I repudiate them. Let me be clear: segregation and racism are immoral." The apology was not enough to keep Lott from being forced to resign his Senate leadership post, but he remained in office, and after winning his fourth term in 2006 he was elected Minority Whip by his Republican colleagues in the Senate.
In November 2007, less than a year into his six-year term in the Senate, Lott resigned his office, just in time to slip past new ethical rules that require a two-year wait after leaving the Senate before becoming a lobbyist.
Father: Chester Paul Lott (sharecropper-shipyard worker, b. 5-Feb-1916, d. 7-Dec-1968)
Mother: Iona Watson Lott (schoolteacher, b. 1916)
Wife: Patricia Elizabeth Thompson Lott (college sweetheart, m. 27-Dec-1964)
Son: Chester Trent Lott, Jr. (lobbyist)
Daughter: Tyler Elizabeth Lott Armstrong (executive with MetroJackson Chamber of Commerce)
High School: Pascagoula High School, Pascagoula, MS (1959)
University: BS Public Administration, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (1963)
Law School: JD, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS (1967)
Patton Boggs Senior Counsel (2010-)
Breaux-Lott Leadership Group Founder (2008-10)
US Senator, Mississippi (3-Jan-1989 to 18-Dec-2007, resigned)
US Congressman, Mississippi 5th (1973-89)
Congressional Staff Admin. Asst. to Rep. William M. Colmer (1968-72)
Member of the Board of EADS North America (2008-)
Alfalfa Club 1992
American Bar Association
Close Up Foundation Board of Advisors
Council for National Policy
Freemasonry Pascagoula Lodge #419, 33rd Degree, 12-Dec-1987
Jefferson Awards Board of Selectors
John McCain 2008
Leadership Institute Bi-Partisan Congressional Advisory Board
Mississippi Bar Association 1967
Sigma Nu Fraternity
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Young Americans for Freedom National Advisory Board
Alfalfa Party candidate for US President
Draft Deferment: Vietnam (20-Sep-1965)
Draft Deferment: Vietnam 3-A "hardship" (12-Apr-1967)
Funeral: Richard Nixon (1994)
Wedding: William Cohen and Janet Langhart (1996)
Risk Factors: Toupee
Author of books:
Herding Cats: A Life in Politics (2005, memoir)
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