Tags: Homeland Security | Presidential History | DEA | FBI | Oxley | Sarbanes

Rep. Oxley Was Loyal Defender of Hoover's FBI

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Rep. Mike Oxley, 2006 (AP) 

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Tuesday, 05 Jan 2016 09:14 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As friends mourned former Rep. Mike Oxley who died at age 71 on New Year’s Day, a few noted he passed away on what would have been the 120th birthday of his former boss, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

A special agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1969-72, Oxley, onetime chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was one of the last of the “Hoover men” who served under the legendary first director of the FBI (who died in 1972 after more than four decades on the job).

As congressman, Oxley could also be counted on as one of the chief defenders in Congress of the FBI and the memory of the man he considered a hero and mentor and, like other former agents of his generation, always referred to him as “Mr. Hoover” or “The Director” long after his death.

Shortly after he came to Congress in a special election in 1981, Oxley met with me in his office on Capitol Hill. There were none of the signed photos of the famous and powerful adorning the private office of the newest U.S. Representative. His “vanity wall” was home to but one photograph: that of J. Edgar Hoover, warmly inscribed to the former agent.

“And the director wrote me when our son [also named Michael] was born,” Oxley said proudly to me.

When I pointed out that the Ohio lawmaker was the lone former FBI agent in Congress, Oxley gently corrected me.

“[California’s liberal Democratic Rep.] Don Edwards is the other,” he said, “But we don’t claim him.” Edwards, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, had become a bitter enemy of the FBI under Hoover and the director himself.

Oxley was one of a distinguished group that trained and became FBI agents in Hoover’s twilight days. Among them were Oklahoma Gov.-to-be Frank Keating, future Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) boss Francis “Bud” Mullen, and Michigan’s 1986 Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lucas, one of the first black FBI agents, who went on to be sheriff and county executive of Wayne County (Detroit) and was the Republican nominee for governor of Michigan in 1986.

To a person, they fiercely defended their old boss and his memory. The discipline he required of agents — right down to wearing dark suits, white shirts and fedoras and keeping hair trimmed above the ears — was excellent training for future roles they would play in public service, all agreed.

In later years, Oxley would frequently cite his experience as an FBI agent under Hoover for his support of the Patriot Act and other legislation designed to combat post 9-11 terrorism with electronic surveillance. He also advocated giving police greater ability to unscramble encrypted computer files.

Years after Hoover’s death, civil libertarians and liberal Democrats stepped up the attacks on his record on surveillance of Vietnam War opponents and black militants. There were frequent calls in Congress for removing his name from the J. Edgar Hoover Building that housed the FBI’s national headquarters in Washington.


Frequently, however, they would have to reckon with Rep. Oxley. The Buckeye State lawmaker could be counted on to take to the House floor and remind colleagues that, among other things, Hoover was an opponent of the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor.

Mike Oxley will primarily be remembered as co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that set rules of behaviors for boards of corporations. But those reporters who covered him and those people who considered him a friend will also recall him as a defender of the FBI and its director who strongly influenced his life and public career.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


 

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Oxley will be remembered as co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill that set rules of behaviors for boards of corporations. But those reporters who covered him and those who considered him a friend will also recall him as a defender of the FBI and its director who influenced his life and career.
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Tuesday, 05 Jan 2016 09:14 AM
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