Dave Durenberger, who as a average Republican Senator from Minnesota was censured by the Senate in 1990 for monetary improprieties that destroyed his 16-year Washington profession and led to a plea deal to keep away from felony felony prices, died on Tuesday at his dwelling in St. Paul, Minn. He was 88.
The trigger was coronary heart failure, his spouse, Susan Bartlett Foote, mentioned.
Earlier than the roof caved in, Mr. Durenberger was a favourite son in a historically Democratic state. Minnesota had despatched him to Washington not as a model of Frank Capra’s sweetly naive Mr. Smith however as an unbiased, ethically irreproachable successor to the storied Hubert H. Humphrey, the ebullient Democrat who had returned to the Senate after dropping the 1968 presidential race and whose widow, Muriel Humphrey, had been holding her husband’s unexpired time period.
Mr. Durenberger was elected to finish the time period in a particular election in 1978, changing into the primary Republican Senator from Minnesota in 20 years.
A decade later, after what colleagues and constituents referred to as the senator’s yeoman service as an advocate on well being and environmental points, a hidden aspect of Mr. Durenberger started to floor. He was arrested after a dispute with a police officer. Two of his sons had drug issues. He and his second spouse separated. And the Senate Ethics Committee started investigating his monetary affairs.
What it discovered was a sequence of unsavory offers to evade Senate earnings and expense guidelines. In a single scheme, Mr. Durenberger took reimbursements of $40,000 for “renting” a Minneapolis rental he partly owned. In one other, he circumvented limits on talking charges by disguising $100,000 as earnings from a writer for selling two books he wrote.
He didn’t dispute the allegations. The Senate ordered him to repay $29,000 in disallowed journey bills and to present $95,000 in disallowed talking charges to a charity. And it voted 96 to 0 to censure Mr. Durenberger for bringing “dishonor and disrepute” on the Senate. Solely expulsion, final invoked for Senator Harrison Williams in 1981 within the Abscam scandal, would have been extra extreme.
Mr. Durenberger didn’t resign from workplace, however served out the remaining 4 years of his time period in shame, retiring in early 1995. By then he had been indicted on federal felony prices of conspiring to make false claims within the Senate. Going through as much as 10 years in jail, he pleaded responsible to 5 misdemeanor counts of expense account dishonest and was sentenced to at least one 12 months of probation.
“This explicit ethics imbroglio just isn’t about votes bartered or affect bought,” U.S. Information & World Report mentioned. “It resides on the different finish of the political-morality spectrum, within the personal pressures on politicians squeezed for money.” In a Senate largely composed of millionaires, it famous, Mr. Durenberger “by no means belonged to that a part of the fraternity.”
And in an editorial, The New York Occasions mentioned: “Final 12 months, senators overtly pocketed greater than $2 million in honorariums from authorities favor-seekers. And so they collected tens of thousands and thousands extra in marketing campaign contributions from the identical particular pursuits. This method of legalized bribery poses a far larger menace to the Senate’s credibility than do any of Mr. Durenberger’s evasions.”
After leaving the Senate, Mr. Durenberger returned to St. Paul and taught well being care coverage at St. Thomas College from 1995 to 2014, when he retired. His political beliefs, it appeared, have been nonetheless valued by voters. Rejecting his fellow Republican Donald J. Trump, he endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidency in 2016 and Joseph R. Biden’s run for the White Home in 2020. Each candidates carried Minnesota.
David Ferdinand Durenberger was born in St. Cloud, Minn., on Aug. 19, 1934, to Roman Catholic mother and father, George and Isabelle (Cebulla) Durenberger. His father was the athletic director of St. John’s College in Collegeville, Minn. The household lived on campus, and David grew up with the work ethic and monastic influences of the school’s Benedictine monks.
He graduated from St. John’s Preparatory College in 1951 and majored in political science at St. John’s College, graduating with excessive honors and a bachelor’s diploma in 1955. In his senior 12 months, he was voted “most certainly to translate St. John’s work and pray ethic into public service.”
Mr. Durenberger was an Military officer for 2 years and spent seven extra within the reserves. In 1959, he earned a legislation diploma on the College of Minnesota. He joined a Twin Cities legislation agency with Republican ties that had produced Gov. Harold E. Stassen and Gov. Harold LeVander, who made Mr. Durenberger his chief of employees.
In 1962, he married Judith McGlumphy, who died of breast most cancers in 1970, leaving him with 4 younger sons: Charles, David, Michael and Daniel. In 1971, he married Penny Baran Tuohy, a member of Senator Humphrey’s employees. He and his second spouse separated in 1985 and have been divorced in 1993.
Mr. Durenberger married Ms. Foote, a well being care coverage professional and former member of his Senate employees, in 1995. Along with her, he’s survived by his sons; a stepdaughter, Rebecca Greenwald; a stepson, Benjamin Foote; two brothers, Mark and Tom; two sisters, Connie Kniep and Mary Mcloud; eight grandchildren; and 6 step-grandchildren.
In 1971, Mr. Durenberger joined H.B. Fuller Firm, a St. Paul producer led by one other former Republican governor, Elmer Andersen. By way of the Nineteen Seventies he turned a high-profile neighborhood service volunteer, concerned in class board affairs, charities, parks and landmarks commissions, hospitals and youngsters’s well being organizations, the United Approach, and humanities and environmental teams. He additionally raised funds for the Republican Social gathering.
When Senator Humphrey died at 66 in 1978, his widow was named by Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich to succeed him, pending a particular election. In that contest Mr. Durenberger, together with his public service file, appeared very best for the Republican ticket. He defeated Robert Brief, the Democratic-Farm-Labor Social gathering candidate.
In his abbreviated four-year first time period, Mr. Durenberger emerged as a severe and pragmatic legislator. He hailed girls’s teams supporting the Equal Rights Modification, however opposed legalizing abortion. In 1981, he was named “Environmentalist of the 12 months” by Minnesota’s Sierra Membership, however took marketing campaign contributions from company polluters.
A fiscal conservative, he supported the Reagan administration’s tax and price range cuts, whereas distancing himself from lots of its social retrenchments. However President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George Bush and Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan attended Minnesota fund-raisers for the Durenberger re-election marketing campaign in 1982, and he simply beat the DFL candidate, Mark Dayton.
Later, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee through the Iran-contra scandal, Mr. Durenberger defended Reagan, saying the president had been deceived by aides, however he didn’t let Lt. Col. Oliver North off the hook, calling him the mastermind of the plot behind the scandal — to illegally promote weapons to Iran and divert the funds to right-wing rebels in Nicaragua, in violation of a Congressional mandate.
Books he wrote throughout his Senate tenure included “Neither Madmen Nor Messiahs: A Coverage of Nationwide Safety for America (1984) and Prescription for Change (1986), on well being care reform.
Working for a 3rd time period in 1988, Mr. Durenberger trounced the Minnesota lawyer common, Hubert H. Humphrey III, who discovered it exhausting to maneuver past the shadow of his well-known father. Mr. Durenberger received by stressing his “rural values” acquired rising up in Collegeville, a setting he portrayed as a buttress for schooling, exhausting work, faith and morality.
However he was quickly caught up in what turned a two-year investigation of his moral lapses.
“That Mr. Durenberger is enmeshed in an ethics scandal is all of the extra stunning as a result of for years he was seen as Mr. Clear Politics,” The Occasions mentioned in 1990. “Mr. Durenberger was thought of so upstanding that quickly after he entered the Senate, he was named to the ethics committee, the very panel that’s now weighing his destiny.”
Alex Traub contributed reporting.
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