Cynthia McKinney

From OpenCongress Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Cynthia Ann McKinney was a Democratic member of the U. S. House of Representatives from Georgia's 4th district from 1993-2003 and 2005-2007. On December 16, 2007, McKinney announced she would seeking the Green Party of the United States nomination for the 2008 election for president of the United States. [1]




McKinney was born March 17, 1955 in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California, a Masters of Art in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and she will complete her Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley.[1] McKinney's political career began in 1986 when her father, state representative Billy McKinney, submitted her name as a write-in candidate for a state house district. She received approximately 40% of the popular vote, despite the fact that she lived in Jamaica at the time. She returned to Georgia and was elected to the Georgia legislature in 1988 as an official candidate.

Shortly after her election to the Georgia State House, she joined with other civil rights leaders and filed a lawsuit that led to an increased number of black judges in Georgia.[2] In 1991, she spoke out against the bombing of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War, causing many legislators to walk out in protest at her remarks. [3]

McKinney's campaign biography describes her as "an outspoken leader for human rights; an ardent advocate for peace, and a determined worker for justice." [4]

Electoral History

In 1992 McKinney was elected as the first Congresswoman from the newly-drawn 11th District, a black-majority district stretching from Atlanta to Savannah. However, in 1995 the district was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court because the boundaries were unfairly based on race (approximately 64 percent of McKinney's constituents were black).[5] McKinney asserted that it was a racially discriminatory ruling given the fact that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that Texas' 6th district, which is 91 percent white, was constitutional. Her district was renumbered the 4th and redrawn to take in almost all of DeKalb County. The new 4th was no less Democratic than the old 11th, and McKinney was easily reelected from this district in 1996, 1998 and 2000.

In 2002, McKinney was defeated in the Democratic primary by Denise Majette, then a DeKalb County judge. McKinney felt she was targeted for defeat because she asked tough questions about September 11, 2001. An estimated 40,000 Republicans "crossed over" and voted in the Democratic Primary to oust Cynthia. [6] This came following a radio interview in Berkeley in early 2002, when she was quoted as saying "We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11. What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?...What do they have to hide?" Later, McKinney clarified her statement, stating, "I am not aware of any evidence showing that President Bush or members of his administration have personally profited from the attacks of 9-11. A complete investigation might reveal that to be the case." [7]

In 2004, Majette declined to run for reelection to the House, opting instead to become a Senate candidate. McKinney barely won the 2004 Democratic primary with enough votes to avoid a run-off. The district is so heavily Democrat that winning the primary is tatamount to winning the general election. When she returned to the U.S. House, she was denied her seniority status.[8]

Throughout 2003 and 2004, Cynthia McKinney toured America and much of Europe speaking of her defeat, her opposition to the Iraq War, and the Bush administration.

On August 8, 2006, McKinney was again defeated in the Democratic primary as she sought to retain her seat. Hank Johnson, a trial lawyer, overwhelmingly beat McKinney by a double-digit margin. Following her loss, McKinney stated, "Not only do we want our country back, we want our party back...I wish the new representative of the Fourth Congressional District well." [9]

Meet the Cash Constituents

Links to more campaign contribution information for Cynthia McKinney
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2008 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2008 election cycle Career totals

Records and Controversies

Iraq War

McKinney voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[2]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

FEC Fine

According to the Associated Press on October 29, 2005, the Federal Election Commission required McKinney to pay "a $33,000 fine and reimburse as much as $72,000 to political donors after accepting excessive contributions in the 2002 election."[10]

"The alleged illegal activity stems from McKinney's 2002 re-election campaign, which she lost in the Democratic primary to Denise Majette... The eight-page agreement, signed by McKinney's campaign treasurer, Joan Christian, says there were $106,425 in excessive contributions in 2002 -- $42,950 for the primary and $63,475 for the general. Because McKinney lost the primary election, all money collected for the general must be reimbursed."[11]

Freedom of Information Issues

On July 22, 2005, McKinney held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to address outstanding issues regarding the Sptember 11, 2001 attacks. The day-long briefing featured family members of victims, former intelligence agency officials, noted authors, and other experts who collectively gave a searing indictment of the 9/11 Commission and its recommendations.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial maintained that the purpose of the event was to discuss whether or not the Bush administration was involved in the 9/11 attacks, and was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the 9/11 Commission's reports, expressing surprise that McKinney was once again taking on the issue which was widely believed to have been the one that cost her her House seat, yet the Journal-Constitution refused to publish McKinney's reply.

McKinney's interest in 9/11 relates to her opposition to excessive government secrecy. She has submitted two versions of the same bill to Congress, the "MLK Records Act" (one in 2003, the other in 2005,) which, if signed into law, would release all currently sealed files concerning the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.. These records were sealed in 1978 and are not due to be declassified until the year 2038. Likewise, the 9/11 Commission has sealed all the notes and transcripts of some 2,000 interviews, all the forensic evidence, and both classified and non-classified documents used in compiling its final report until January, 2009. Documents relating to the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, which McKinney has taken an active interest in, would also fall under this bill. In a statement, McKinney explained her reason for the bill: "The public has the right to know because he was a well-known figure. There is intense public interest in the life and death of Tupac Shakur." Critics assert she is merely pandering to her power base. Others point out that legislation demanding release of records is a more direct route than the tedious process and limited scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Hurricane Katrina

Rep. McKinney has been an outspoken advocate of the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and an outspoken critic of the government's slow response. Despite the Democratic Party leadership's call for a boycott, McKinney has been an active participant in the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, sitting as a "guest" along with only a few other Democrats. In questioning Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, McKinney referred to a news story in which the owners of a nursing home were charged with negligent homicide for abandoning 34 clients who died in the floodwaters, McKinney asked Chertoff: "Mr. Secretary, if the nursing home owners are arrested for negligent homicide, why shouldn't you also be arrested for negligent homicide?"

Another incident in the aftermath of Katrina attracted such attention that McKinney responded with a bill in Congress. Thousands of fleeing evacuees were turned away by the Gretna Police at when they attempted to cross the Crescent City Connection Bridge between New Orleans and Gretna, Louisiana. HR 4209, introduced by McKinney on November 2, 2005, would temporarily deny Federal assistance to the City of Gretna Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and the Crescent City Connection Division Police Department in the State of Louisiana for their maltreatment of individuals seeking aid during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, and for other purposes.

Also introduced on November 2, 2005 is the Congressional Black Caucus' Omnibus Bill (HR 4197) to provide a comprehensive response to the Gulf Coast residents affected by Hurricane Katrina, the second title of which was submitted to the Congressional Black Caucus by McKinney and seeks a Comprehensive Environmental Sampling and Toxicity Assessment Plan, or CESTAP, to minimize harm to Gulf Coast residents from the toxic releases into the environment caused by the hurricane. On October 25, 2005, McKinney had already introduced a longer version of this language as the first of two titles in the CESTAP Bill (HR 4139), the second title of which would establish household inspections for mold and other toxins in the wake of Katrina. (The title dealing with mold inspections was first introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vermont) as Title XI of S 1836.)

At the request of McKinney, the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, chaired by Tom Davis held a previously unscheduled hearing titled "Voices Inside the Storm" on December 6, 2005. The first of two panels attracted national attention when several African-American evacuees from New Orleans stated their belief that the disaster relief planning for the hurricane and flood would have been better if the victims had been mostly white, and reported nightmarish stories of their treatment at the hands of police and military authorities. Broadcast live on C-SPAN, the hearing received national media attention (including stories from MSNBC, Yahoo! News, Democracy Now! and an AP story that was republished widely). On December 7th, MSNBC's Brian Williams in an interview with Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Bush said "I would discount somewhat the charge" of racism, in response to a video clip from the December 6th hearing.


On November 18, 2005, McKinney was one of only 3 (out of 406) to vote for a H.R. 573, introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter. Hunter, a Republican, offered this Resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq in place of Rep. John Murtha's H.J.Res. 73, which called for redeployment "at the earliest possible date." In her prepared statement, McKinney accused the Republicans of "trying to set a trap for the Democrats. A 'no' vote for this Resolution will obscure the fact that there is strong support for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq ... In voting for this bill, let me be perfectly clear that I am not saying the United States should exit Iraq without a plan. I agree with Mr. Murtha that security and stability in Iraq should be pursued through diplomacy. I simply want to vote yes to an orderly withdrawal from Iraq."

Election night altercation

On the night of McKinney’s election loss, a scuffle ensued between a bodyguard for McKinney and a television cameraman. According to the cameraman, McKinney’s bodyguard shoved and punched him. DeKalb County police spokesman Jason Gagnon announced that while police are investigating the matter, no charges are likely because it is all, “he said, she said.” [12]

Legislation to impeach President Bush

On December 8, 2006 in what would likely serve as her last act as a member of Congress, McKinney announced legislation to impeach President Bush, accusing him of breaking his oath of office to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States. The measure had no chance of passing and was seen as a rebuke not just of Bush, but of Democratic leadership, which has made it clear that they will not pursue matters of impeachment when they take power in January. [13]

Committees and Affiliations


Committees in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Cynthia McKinney. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and Resources



  • H.R. 2297: "To establish the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area," introduced May 11, 2005.
  • H.R. 2554: "To provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and assassination of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.," (pdf version), introduced May 23, 2005.
  • H.R. 4139: "To minimize harm to populations impacted by the release of environmental contaminants, hazardous materials or infectious materials in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by providing for a Comprehensive Environmental Sampling and Toxicity Assessment Plan (CESTAP) to assess and monitor air, water, soil and human populations, and for other purposes," (pdf version), introduced October 25, 2005
  • H.CON 274: "Reaffirming the continued importance and applicability of the Posse Comitatus Act," (pdf version), introduced October 25, 2005.
  • H. R. 4210: "To provide for the expeditious disclosure of records relevant to the life and death of Tupac Amaru Shakur," (pdf version), introduced November 2, 2005.
  • H.R. 4209: "To temporarily deny Federal assistance to the City of Gretna Police Department, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and the Crescent City Connection Division Police Department in the State of Louisiana for their maltreatment of individuals seeking aid during the Hurricane Katrina crisis, and for other purposes," introduced November 2, 2005.


By Cynthia McKinney

Local blogs and discussion sites


DC Office:
320 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-1605
Fax: 202-226-0691
Web Contact

District Office- Atlanta:
3523 Buford Highway Northeast
Suite 201
Atlanta, GA 30329
Phone: 404-320-2001
Phone: 404-320-1638
Fax: 404-320-3496

District Office- Decatur:
North DeKalb Mall
2050 Lawerenceville Highway, Suite D-46
Decatur, GA 30033
Phone: 404-633-0927

Fax: 404-633-0968