Sanford Bishop

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Sanford Bishop
Sanford Bishop--113th Congress--.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 1993
Preceded by Charles Hatcher
Member of the Georgia Senate
from the 15th district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by ???
Succeeded by Ed Harbison
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
from the 94th district
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1991
Preceded by ???
Succeeded by Bill Lee
Personal details
Born Sanford Dixon Bishop, Jr.
(1947-02-04) February 4, 1947 (age 71)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Vivian Creighton
Residence Albany, Georgia
Alma mater Morehouse College
Emory University
Occupation Attorney
Religion Baptist
Military service
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1968–1971

Sanford Dixon Bishop, Jr. (born February 4, 1947) is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 2nd congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party. The district is located in the southwestern part of the state and includes Albany, Thomasville and most of Columbus and Macon.

Early life, education, and law career

Bishop was born in Mobile, Alabama to Minnie B. Slade and Sanford Dixon Bishop,[1] who was the first president of Bishop State Community College. He was educated at Morehouse College and Emory University School of Law, and served in the United States Army.[2] While at Morehouse, he was a classmate of Herman Cain. After receiving his honorable discharge, Bishop operated a law firm in Columbus, Georgia.

He has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), given to Eagle Scouts for distinguished career achievement.[3][4] He is a member of BSA's Order of the Arrow (OA) and as a youth was on the OA ceremonies team.[3] He is a resident of Albany, Georgia, where he is a member of the Mount Zion Baptist Church. Bishop is a Life Member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity initiated at Morehouse College's Pi chapter.[5] Bishop is a Shriner and 33° Mason.[6]

In October 2013, Bishop announced he was diagnosed as having lymph node cancer after discovering a lump in near the base of his neck. By January 2014, Bishop said that he was cancer free.[7][8]

Georgia legislature

He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1977, where he remained until being elected to the Georgia Senate in 1990.

U.S. House of Representatives



After only one term in the state senate, he ran for the 2nd District in 1992, which was held by six-term U.S. Congressman Charles Hatcher, a white moderate Democrat. The 2nd had been reconfigured as a black-majority district during congressional apportionment following the 1990 Census. Bishop finished second behind Hatcher in a crowded six-way primary. Hatcher failed to reach the 50% threshold, and was forced into a runoff election. During the campaign Bishop attacked Hatcher for bouncing 819 checks in the House banking scandal. Bishop defeated him 53%-47%.[9] In the general election, he defeated Republican Jim Dudley 64%-36%.[10]


In the Democratic primary, he defeated James Bush 67%-33%.[11] In the general election, he won re-election to a second term with 66%.[12]


In 1995, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the redistricting of Georgia had violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 2nd district was thus redrawn. The newly redrawn district was 60% white. Nonetheless he won re-election to a third term with 54% of the vote.[13]


Bishop won re-election to a fourth term against Republican Joseph F. McCormick with 57% of the vote.[14] During the campaign, Bishop received twice the campaign financing that his opponent raised. [15][16]


Bishop defeated Dylan Glenn, a young black Republican who received strong backing from many national Republican leaders. The vote was 53%-47%.[17]


Bishop won re-election to a sixth term unopposed.[18]


Bishop won re-election to a seventh term with 67% of the vote.[19]


He won re-election to an eighth term with 68% of the vote.[20]


Bishop won re-election to a ninth term with 69% of the vote.[21]


Bishop won re-election to a tenth term against Republican State Representative Mike Keown, 51%-49%,[22] the closest margin of his career. In a year where the Democrats lost the majority in the house, the New York Times noted that Bishop's re-election possibilities seemed slim as an "incumbent in an anti-Washington year", his identity as a black man in a majority white district (49% White,47% Black), and the scholarship scandal surrounding his non-profit.[23]


After redistricting, the 2nd district has once again become a black majority district. Notably, it added most of Macon, previously the heart of the 8th District. Bishop was heavily favored in the general election as a result.[24] As expected, he defeated Republican John House with 63 percent of the vote.


Bishop is one of the more conservative black Democrats in the House. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of moderate to conservative House Democrats. Serving a primarily agricultural district, Bishop has fought to preserve the federal price supports for peanuts, southwest Georgia's most important crop. The New York Times quoted Mr. Adams, chairman of the agency that administers Federal farm programs in Georgia saying "It's questionable whether it would have survived without the votes he brought to it".[25] In 1997, he caused considerable controversy within his own party by cosponsoring a bill by U.S. Representative Ernest Istook (R-Oklahoma) to introduce a constitutional amendment to protect religious expression on public property, known as the H. J. Res, 78, the Religious Freedom Amendment. The specific wording of the amendment allowing the practice of religion on public property, most notably public schools, reads as follows:

"To secure the people's fight to acknowledge God according to the dictates of conscience: The people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage and traditions shall not be infringed. The Government shall not require any person to join in prayer or other religious activity, prescribe school prayers, discriminate- against religion, or deny equal access to a benefit on account of religion...The people's right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, or traditions on public property, including schools, shall not be infringed."[26]

On October 10, 2002, Sanford Bishop was one of only four of 36 Congressional Black Caucus members who voted for the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War. The other three Congressional Black Caucus members who voted for the resolution authorizing the Iraq War are no longer members of Congress: Bill Jefferson of Louisiana, Albert Wynn of Maryland, and Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee.[27][28][29]

On September 10, 2007, Sanford Bishop endorsed Barack Obama for President and was co-chair of Georgia for Obama campaign; Bishop's wife, Vivian Creighton Bishop, a municipal court clerk in Columbus, was co-chair of the Georgia Women for Hillary committee.[30] However, he joined with other pro-life Democrats who voted no on President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because of wording in the bill that permits federal funding for Abortions.[31]


In September, 2010, the Associated Press reported that Bishop had, between 2003 and 2005, directed scholarships and awards funded by the Congressional Black Caucus to ineligible persons, including his stepdaughter, Aayesha Owens Reese, his niece, Emmaundia J. Whitaker, and other people with close ties to the family, threatening to turn the program into a larger political problem for the party. Ashton McRae released a statement by Bishop's office, "It is our understanding that the CBC Foundation in 2008 revisited the guidelines and processes for its scholarship programs, and as such, included language to clarify that CBC family members are not eligible to receive the scholarships. These scholarships… were awarded prior to 2008.”[32] Ultimately, Tim Turner, Rep. Bishop's spokesman, said the congressman would repay the scholarship fund for any awards he made in violation of the rules.[33] Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington mentioned Bishop in its annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress report in 2011.[34]

In 1997, the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit came out of legislative discrimination of black farmers, the case was led by Timothy Pigford and 400 black farmers. The Washington Times reported that by the end of the case in 1999, over 94,000 claims were filed in conjuncture with the original case, "even though the U.S. Census Bureau never counted more than 33,000 black farmers in America during the years in question."[35] In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama passed legislation to increase the amount of money given via Pigford II. Since then reports from multiple news sources have reported on the growing reports of fraud within the program. In February 2011, three farmers brought these allegations of fraud to Mr. Bishop, including Eddie Slaughter, vice president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, Bishop responded with "yes, I am aware that there is fraud in the program, that's why anti-fraud provisions were written into the settlement...It's not my job to monitor fraud in the program."[35][36] Interviews with Mr. Slaughter have circulated the internet and criticism has been raised regarding his comments about fraud allegations leading the end of the program.[37]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships



  1. 1
  2. "Veterans in the US House of Representatives 109th Congress" (PDF). Navy League. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2007-10-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Townley, Alvin. Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 165–72. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved 2006-12-29.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Distinguished Eagle Scouts" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Congressman Bishop participates in Kappas on Kapitol Hill
  6. Official Congressional Biography
  7. Hannah Hess (October 11, 2013). "Sanford Bishop Announces Cancer Diagnosis, Treatments". Roll Call. Retrieved 14 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Larry Gierer (January 9, 2014). "Sanford Bishop now cancer free". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Retrieved 14 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Campaign Finance: Joseph F McCormick". Retrieved 2 May 2012. External link in |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Cycle Fundraising, 1997 - 1998, Campaign Cmte". Retrieved 2 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. ROBBIE BROWN (November 4, 2010). "Rare Winner for Southern Democrats". The New York TImes. Retrieved 16 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. KEVIN SACK (December 30, 1998). "In the Rural White South, Seeds of a Biracial Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Sanford Bishop (July 22, 1997). "Testimony of Representative Sanford Bishop 2nd District, Georgia". House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. Retrieved 2 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Final vote results for roll call 455". Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. October 10, 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "H.J.RES.114 To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq". THOMAS. October 16, 2002.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Eversley, Melanie (October 10, 2002). "Georgians in House divided on Iraq". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. p. A1. Democrat Sanford Bishop unabashedly announced his support of the current Republican president.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Dewan, Shaila (January 18, 2008). "Southern Blacks Are Split on Clinton vs. Obama". The New York Times. p. A1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Carl Cameron (March 10, 2010). "Senate Health Care Bill Dead on Arrival, Pro-Life House Democrats Say". Fox News. Retrieved 2 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Bishop funneled scholarships to family
  33. "Representative Sanford D Bishop Jr Awarded Scholarships to Family", by the Associated Press, New York Times 11 September 2010
  34. "Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) Earned Dishonorable Mention in CREW's Annual Most Corrupt Report". Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Associated Press. September 19, 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. 35.0 35.1 "EDITORIAL: USDA's Pigford fraud Obama initiative ignores corruption to redistribute wealth". The Washington Times. February 2, 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Lee Stranahan (January 24, 2011). "Blue Dog Congressman Sanford Bishop Knew About Pigford Fraud". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Bob Keefe (January 20, 2011). "Rep. Bishop takes heat over Breitbart videos about black farmers settlement". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved 22 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. The London Gazette: no. 61305. pp. 13771–13773. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Hatcher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia's 2nd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Xavier Becerra
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Corrine Brown