Bob Bennett
United States Senator
from Utah
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Jake Garn
Succeeded by Mike Lee
Personal details
Born (1933-09-18) September 18, 1933 (age 87)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Joyce McKay
Children Julie Bennett
Robert Bennett
James Bennett
Wendy Bennett
Heather Bennett
Heidi Bennett
Residence Salt Lake City, Utah
Alma mater University of Utah
Occupation Public relations consultant
Technology Executive
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Military service
Service/branch Utah Army National Guard
Years of service 1957-1969
Unit Chaplain Corps

Robert Foster "Bob" Bennett (born September 18, 1933) is a lobbyist, a former United States Senator from Utah, and a member of the Republican Party. Bennett held chairmanships and senior positions on a number of key Senate committees, including the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Appropriations Committee, Rules and Administration Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Joint Economic Committee. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee named this senator as one of the six current and former members of Congress who received discount loans from Countrywide Mortgage.

Bennett was a popular and reliably conservative Senator for most of his tenure, earning high ratings from conservative activist groups such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and American Conservative Union.[1][2] However, in 2010 Bennett became one of the most prominent targets of the Tea Party Movement, which criticized his support of the Bush Administration's bank bailout and argued that Bennett was insufficiently conservative. Despite an enthusiastic endorsement from Mitt Romney, Bennett lost the 2010 Utah Senate primary election, placing third behind two Tea-Party-backed candidates.[3]

Following his exit from the Senate, Bennett formed a lobbying firm called the Bennett Consulting Group and joined the law firm Arent Fox as a policy advisor.[4] He serves as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he focuses on budget, energy, and health issues,[5] and serves as Chairman of TechAmerica Foundation, the educational outreach arm [6] of TechAmerica.[7] Bennett is a part-time teacher, researcher and lecturer at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. He is also a fellow at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs.[8]

Early life, education, and business career[edit | edit source]

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bennett is the son of Frances Marion (née Grant) and the U.S. Senator Wallace Foster Bennett,[9] as well as a grandson of Heber J. Grant, the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a great-grandson of Jedediah M. Grant (Heber J. Grant's father) and Daniel H. Wells (through Heber J. Grant's wife Emily H. Wells), early mayors of Salt Lake City and counselors in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. Bennett attended high school at East High, and he earned his B.S. from the University of Utah in 1957 majoring in Political Science. He also served as the Student Body President at the University of Utah.

Bennett was an LDS Church chaplain in the Utah Army National Guard from 1957 to 1969, when he entered public service as congressional liaison of the United States Department of Transportation. He held this position from 1969 to 1970. That year he became president of Robert Mullen Company, a Washington, D.C. public-relations company. During Bennett's tenure, the PR firm did work for President Nixon's reelection campaign, and employed future Watergate felon E. Howard Hunt.[10] In 1974, Bennett became the public relations director for the billionaire Howard Hughes's holding company, Summa Corporation, working there until 1978 when he became the president of Osmond Communications.

In 1979, he went into the technology industry, first as the chairman of the American Computers Corporation, and then as the president of the Microsonics Corporation from 1981 to 1984. In 1984, Bennett was named as the CEO of Franklin Quest, where he was also a founding shareholder. Bennett held this position until he ran for public office.

U.S. Senate[edit | edit source]

Elections[edit | edit source]

A Senate seat opened up in 1992, when Jake Garn declined to enter the race for a fourth term. Bennett narrowly won the heavily contested Republican Party primary election (with 51% of the votes cast) in 1992, his primary opponent being another millionaire with prominent LDS forebears. Bennett then went on to defeat his Democratic opponent, Congressman Wayne Owens, in the general election. He was re-elected in 1998 and 2004. His Democratic opponent in 2004 was the former state Attorney General Paul Van Dam, and Bennett won by a vote total of 68% to 29%.

Bennett was challenged by seven other Republicans and two Democrats in his bid for re-election in 2010, including Mike Lee, Cherilyn Eagar, Tim Bridgewater, and Democrats Sam Granato and Christopher Stout. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff dropped out of the race, citing family concerns.[11][12][13]

Despite a strong approval rating among statewide voters, Bennett was defeated on May 8, 2010, at the Utah Republican Convention after finishing third in the second round of balloting, to Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater.[14]

After the convention, Senator Bennett was widely encouraged by his constituents and colleagues to pursue a write-in bid to retain his U.S. Senate seat, but Bennett declined, citing the toxic atmosphere such a bid would bring to the state's political environment.[15]

During part of his tenure in the Senate, Bennett sat at the Candy desk.

Tenure[edit | edit source]

During the 106th Congress, Bennett was tapped by then Majority Leader, Bill Frist, to serve as the Chief Deputy Republican Party "Whip". Later, as Counsel to Mitch McConnell, Senator Bennett was an influential member of the Republican Leadership Team and advised the Minority Leader on "legislative strategy and policy priorities".[16]


Bennett has been a strong opponent of abortion, and has supported measures to restrict it. These include requirements of parental notification for one to take place and bans on allowing minors to cross state lines to obtain the procedure and late-term abortions. However, he has shown some support for embryonic stem cell research.[17]

LGBT Issues

On December 16, 2009, Bennett was the sole vote (of any party) on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to oppose the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S. 1102), which would provide benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian federal employees.[18]

On March 25, 2010, during the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 debate, the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt by Bennett[19] to "suspend the issuance of marriage licenses to any couple of the same sex until the people of the District of Columbia have the opportunity to hold a referendum or initiative on the question".[20]

Civil Rights

Bennett has supported Bush Administration wiretapping proposals. He was one of only three Republican senators to vote against a proposed constitutional ban on flag burning. He stated that he supports legislation to ban U.S. flag desecration on federal property, and desecration of federally-owned flags.[17]


Bennett has been a supporter of flat taxation and has been a leading voice for the repeal of the Inheritance Tax, Alternative Minimum Tax, and "marriage penalty". He has publicly stated that he sees it as unfair for the tax burden to fall on the wealthiest one percent of the population (for whom inheritance taxes are an issue). Bennett has also voted against minimum wage increases and bills that would increase the ease in which workers could organize.[17]

A free trade advocate, Bennett has voted in favor of CAFTA, presidential fast-tracking for normalizing trade relations, and removing common goods from national security export controls. He has favored recent trade deals with countries such as Chile, Singapore, and Oman.[17]

Health care

Bennett has been an opponent of public health care and has blamed government policies for the high cost of insurance. He has voted against proposals to expand government health care, such as those that would let Medicare negotiate in bulk with drug companies or those that would enroll more children in federally-provided insurance. He also voted against the State Children's Health Insurance Program. During his most recent Senate campaign, he stated that high taxes were causing insurers to pass the costs off to customers. He also believed that new drugs were not being properly developed because pharmaceutical companies feared lawsuits if unexpected side effects occurred.[17]

Bennett was the lead Republican sponsor of the Healthy Americans Act, championed by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden.


Bennett had a mixed record on immigration control. He voted in favor of the fence along the US-Mexico border, making English the nation's official language, and denying citizenship rights to guest workers. However, he voted for S. 2611, the 2006 bill which would have given amnesty to ca. 12 million illegal aliens.

Bennett has been a supporter of the PATRIOT Act. He also voted no on limiting the tours of duty for soldiers in Iraq and on granting habeas corpus rights to detainees in Guantanamo Bay.[17]


Bennett has voted against energy standards proposals. He is against Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, defining goals for a 40 percent reduction in oil use by 2025, and factoring global warming into government planning. Bennett supports Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling and using nuclear power as an energy solution. He also voted against providing emergency energy funding to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.[17]

Committee assignments[edit | edit source]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

In 1962, Bennett married Joyce McKay, a granddaughter of David O. McKay, the ninth president of the LDS Church. This couple has six children: Julie, Robert, James, Wendy, Heather, and Heidi.

Electoral history[edit | edit source]

1992 U.S. Senate election — Republican Primary
Candidate Pct Candidate Pct
Robert F. Bennett 51% Joseph A. Cannon 49%
Utah Senator (Class III) results: 1992–2004[21]
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1992 Wayne Owens 301,228 40% Robert F. Bennett 420,069 55% Anita R. Morrow Populist 17,549 2% Maury Modine Libertarian 14,341 2% Patricia Grogan Socialist Workers 5,292 1%
1998 Scott Leckman 163,172 33% Robert F. Bennett 316,652 64% Gary R. Van Horn Independent American 15,073 3% *
2004 Paul Van Dam 258,955 28% Robert F. Bennett 626,640 69% Gary R. Van Horn Constitution 17,289 2% Joe LaBonte Personal Choice 8,824 1% *

* Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1998, write-ins received 12 votes. In 2004, write-ins received 18 votes.

2010 Republican State Convention results (First Round) [22]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Mike Lee 982 28.75%
Republican Tim Bridgewater 917 26.84%
Republican Bob Bennett 885 25.91%
Republican Cherilyn Eagar 541 15.84%
Republican Merrill Cook 49 1.43%
Republican Leonard Fabiano 22 0.64%
Republican Jeremy Friedbaum 16 0.47%
Republican David Chiu 4 0.12%
Totals 3,416 100.00%
2010 Republican State Convention results (Second Round) [23]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Tim Bridgewater 1,274 37.42%
Republican Mike Lee 1,225 35.99%
Republican Bob Bennett 905 26.99%
Totals 3,404 100.00%

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gardner, Amy (May 9, 2010). "Tea party wins victory in Utah as incumbent GOP senator loses bid for nomination". Washington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  2. Zeleny, Jeff (March 25, 2010). "Political Tide Could Wash Away Utah Senator". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  3. Johnson, Kirk (May 8, 2010). "Utah Delegates Oust Three-Term G.O.P. Senator From Race". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  4. Kamen, Al (February 23, 2012). "John Ensign, Bob Bennett, dogs, cats and K Street". Washington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2012. 
  5. "The Bipartisan Policy Center Welcomes Former Senator Bob Bennett". 
  6. "TechAmerica Foundation". 
  7. "TechAmerica Foundation Board of Directors Announces Appointment of the Honorable Robert F. Bennett as Chairman". Retrieved 2011-05-13. 
  8. "Former U.S. Senator Bob Bennett, Arun Chaudhary and P.J. Crowley Become Fellows". 
  10. Perlstein, Rick (2008). Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Simon and Schuster. p. 681. ISBN 978-0-7432-4302-5. 
  11. Eagar officially announces Senate candidacy
  12. Davidson, Lee (2009-11-05). "Shurtleff drops out of U.S. Senate race". Deseret News. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  13. "Another Democratic Challenger to Bennett". 
  14. "Sen. Bob Bennett ousted by Utah GOP". Washington Times. May 8, 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  15. Raymond, Arthur (May 21, 2010). "Sen. Bob Bennett says he will not attempt write-in campaign". Deseret News. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  16. "Official Biography of Senator Bob Bennett". The Office of Senator Bennett. Archived from the original on 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2009-06-24. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 "Robert Bennett on the Issues". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  18. "Partner benefits bill advances, but hurdles remain". Government Executive. 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  19. "DC Marriage Amendment to Health Insurance Reform Bill Defeated in Senate " Human Rights Campaign". HRC Back Story. 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  20. TEXT OF AMENDMENTS -- (Senate - March 23, 2010)
  21. "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  22. Senate Race: 1st Round Results Accessed May 10, 2010
  23. Senate Race: 2nd Round Results Accessed May 10, 2010

External links[edit | edit source]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Jake Garn
United States Senator (Class 3) from Utah
Served alongside: Orrin Hatch
Succeeded by
Mike Lee

de:Bob Bennett es:Robert Foster Bennett fr:Robert Bennett (homme politique) nl:Bob Bennett (politicus) no:Robert Foster Bennett pl:Robert Foster Bennett pt:Bob Bennett ru:Беннетт, Роберт Фостер fi:Robert Bennett (poliitikko) sv:Robert Bennett

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