Maria Cantwell

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U.S. Senator

Maria Cantwell




Leadership: No leadership position
Committees: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Senate Committee on Finance, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
(subcommittees and past assignments)

Candidates for the WA-Senate Class I Seat:
(Next election: 6 November 2012)

Confirmed: None so far
Considering: None so far
Rumored: None so far
Potential: None so far
Dropped-out: None so far
(more info and editing for the WA-Senate Class I Seat)
On the Web
Official website

Maria E. Cantwell is the Junior Senator for the state of Washington. She is a Democrat and was first elected in 2000.


Record and controversies

Congressional scorecards

Click through the score to see the records of other members of Congress and full descriptions of the individual votes.

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Organization 2007 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
2008 Scorecard
Score - Agree ratio
American Civil Liberties Union not avail. not avail.
American Conservative Union not avail. not avail.
AFSCME not avail. not avail.
Americans for Democratic Action not avail. not avail.
Club for Growth not avail. not avail.
Drum Major Institute not avail. not avail.
Family Research Council not avail. not avail.
Information Technology Industry Council not avail. not avail.
League of Conservation Voters not avail. not avail.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People not avail. not avail.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce not avail. not avail.

Iraq War

Cantwell voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

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

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Cantwell received the highest rating possible from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) for her environmental voting record. She is known for supporting alternative energy research and for protecting Washington's forests from logging and the construction of paved roads, which has earned her the endorsement of various prominent environmental advocacy groups like the LCV, the Sierra Club, and the Defenders of Wildlife. [1] [2] [3] Cantwell has opposed drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on multiple occasions, has voted to reduce oil usage by 40% by 2025, and has opposed legislation to relax or terminate CAFE standards.[4] The Seattle Times has described Cantwell's environmental record as "pristine" [5] and The Wilderness Society has called Cantwell an "environmental champion".[6]

Abramoff contributions

"Most of those tribal contributions went to Republicans, but some Democrats have found themselves in an embarrassing position. A little more than a third of the $5.35 million in political donations made by [Jack] Abramoff's tribal clients went to the opposition party," Joel Connelly wrote in the January 6, 2006, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

In January 2006, Cantwell,reportedly donated all contributions, totalling more than $17,000, to a Native American education foundation. She donated all money from out of state tribes that were possible clients of Jack Abramoff.[7]

Alito filibuster

In January 2006, after publicly announcing her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, Cantwell was one of nineteen Democrats who voted for the cloture motion.[8] The failure of this motion ended the filibuster of the confirmation of Judge Alito that was being led by Senator John Kerry and Senator Ted Kennedy.[9] Because Alito had the support of a majority of Senators, a filibuster was the only way to stop his nomination in the Senate. Alito was confirmed on a 58-42 vote.


During Cantwell’s 2006 Senate reelection campaign, former campaign manager and lobbyist Ron Dotzauer served as an advisor to her. At this point, Cantwell acknowledged that Dotzauer owed her between $15,000 and $50,000 from a personal loan predating Cantwell’s first Senate election in 2000.

In 2005-2006, Cantwell persuaded Senate appropriators to set aside $9.6 million for a dam project benefiting two clients of Dotzauer’s lobbying firm. She also saw that $2 million was appropriated for Inologic, a biotechnology company also represented by Dotzauer.

On September 7, 2006, Cantwell spokesman Michael Meehan defended the senator’s actions, stating “She (Cantwell) believes a senator from Washington state should fight for the people and companies of the state when it comes to matters before the federal government. That's part of her job.” Meehan reiterated that her efforts were in no way related to either Dotzauer’s status as a lobbyist or any personal debt.

Senate ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in using official acts to affect those with whom the senators have a personal financial interest. [10]

Aide's misconduct

In February 2008, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor announced that James Michael McHaney, a former aide to Cantwell, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

Though no sentencing date has been set as of yet, McHaney faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. While employed as a scheduler in Cantwell’s office, McHaney was arrested in late 2007 for attempting to sexually exploit a teenage boy. He was fired within hours of his arrest. Cantwell’s office declined to comment on McHaney’s most recent guilty plea.[1]



Maria Cantwell was born October 13, 1958 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was educated at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration. After earning her degree, she moved to Seattle, Washington in 1983 to campaign for Alan Cranston in his unsuccessful bid for the 1984 Democratic Presidential nomination.

In 1986, at the age of 28, Cantwell was elected to the Washington State Legislature. As a state representative, she helped write the Growth Management Act of 1990, which required cities to develop comprehensive growth plans, and she negotiated its passage.

In 1992, she became the first Democrat elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from Washington's first congressional district in 40 years. During her first term, she helped convince the Clinton Administration to drop its support of the Clipper Chip, she voted in support of NAFTA, and she supported President Clinton's 1993 budget. Republican Rick White used that vote to narrowly defeat her in the Republican landslide year of 1994.


After her defeat in the 1994 Congressional election, Cantwell vowed to leave politics. Political ally Rob Glaser offered her a job as vice president of RealNetworks for marketing. She became a multimillionaire with her stock options as the company grew.

The company faced heavy criticism in the computer industry, because privacy groups alleged in 1998 that the RealJukebox software program incorporated spyware to track unsuspecting users' listening patterns and download history. In response, RealNetworks amended its privacy policy to fully disclose its privacy practices regarding user listening patterns. Subsequently, RealNetworks submitted to independent outside audits of its privacy practices. Several lawsuits regarding the alleged privacy violations were settled out of court.

In August of 2000, Cantwell sold 110,000 shares of RealNetworks stock at about $44/share. By the end of the year the stock was selling for less than $9/share.[11]

Senate Career

The 2000, Cantwell decided to re-enter politics with a Senate bid. The election was extremely close. Early on election day, Cantwell enjoyed a lead, and TV networks projected a Cantwell victory. As absentee ballots streamed in, incumbent Slade Gorton overtook Cantwell and achieved a lead of 15,000 votes. When the liberal Puget Sound area finished counting ballots and the county totals were certified on November 23, Cantwell had gained a lead of 1,953 votes out of 2.5 million cast, about .08%. A mandatory recount increased her lead to 2,229 votes, or .09%.

In the Senate, she has voted with the Senate Democratic leadership most of the time, including her vote in favor of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002, and in 2005 for resolutions urging the administration to make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq.

On the issue of abortion, Cantwell calls herself "100% pro-choice," and she consistently supports the positions of the pro-choice movement. She was one of 34 Senators to vote against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which passed and was signed into law by President Bush November 5, 2003, and has been ruled against by multiple federal courts. She also voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which made it a crime to kill or harm a fetus during a criminal assault upon the mother. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 61-38, and was signed into law by President Bush April 1, 2004.

One of her main accomplishments is the passage of an amendment "To prevent energy market manipulation," which passed 57-40. A previous effort was defeated by a vote of 50-48.

She is the chair of the Senate Democrats 20/20 Energy Independence campaign, and in late 2005 defeated an attempt to pass drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) during passage of a defense spending bill. Ted Stevens (R-AK) attached the measure to a bill which provided money for defense spending and Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Cantwell managed to round up the votes of 41 Democrats and 2 Republicans, enough to block a final vote. [12] Stevens removed the ANWR measure from the larger bill, but promised to bring the matter up at a later date.

In summer 2005, Cantwell voted for CAFTA, which angered many who opposed free trade agreements. Others argued that due to the state's unique economy, any senator from Washington almost had to vote for free trade pacts. Her votes on CAFTA and Iraq made some wonder if she would face a third-party challenge from the left. Cantwell did support the view of many left-wing groups when, citing his potential views on abortion and the envrionment, she was one of 22 senators to vote against United States Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

2006 Election

Due to Washington's close gubernatorial contest between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, Republicans believed they could make inroads in the state. Rossi led Cantwell in early hypothetical matchups compiled by conservative Strategic Vision [13]. The field cleared for Mike McGavick, who resigned from his job as CEO of Safeco Insurance to run against her. Another possible candidate is attorney Bern Haggerty (Green), 2004 Lieutenant Governor Candidate.[14] Mark Wilson, Green party candidate for Senate in 2004, will run against Cantwell in the Democratic primary.

Cantwell’s 2006 GOP reelection opponent was ultimately Mike McGavick. The challenger spurred controversy during the campaign when he admitted to a 1993 DUI charge. On his campaign web site, he wrote that he was stopped when he "cut a yellow light too close in 1993" while driving home with Gaelynn, now his wife. The Montgomery County, Maryland police officer who arrested him, however, gave a different account. He said in his report that he saw McGavick "drive through a steady red light." [15] (See the full report of McGavick's arrest)

On September 6, 2006, McGavick announced he was returning $14,000 in campaign funds that he received from executives at VECO Corp., an Alaskan oil services firm. The week prior, federal agents served warrants at VECO's corporate offices and those of several state legislators from Alaska. McGavick was the first legislator to return funds from the firm, who has given over $640,000 to federal candidates over the past two decades. [16]

Cantwell ultimately retained her seat, winning the general election 57% to 40%. [17]

2008 election

2008 superdelegate

This information was gathered by volunteer researchers as part of the Superdelegate Transparency Project on the superdelegates for the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. For more info see the Washington superdelegate tracker or visit the STP homepage.

Before Hillary Clinton conceded the race, Maria Cantwell, as a superdelegate, had pledged to support the primary winner (state or national).

“If we have a candidate who has the most delegates and the most states,” the Democratic party should come together around that candidate, Cantwell said.[2]

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. For specific controversies, see this article's record and controversies section.

Top Contributors to during the 2008 Election Cycle
DonorAmount (US Dollars)
Microsoft Corp$ 108,474
EMILY's List$ 81,450
League of Conservation Voters$ 43,950
University of Washington$ 43,237
Morgan & Morgan$ 40,200
Boeing Co$ 35,325
K&L Gates$ 33,398
Intellectual Ventures LLC$ 29,250
WPP Group$ 29,000
McBee Strategic Consulting$ 28,150
Source: The Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Note: Contributions are not from the organizations themselves, but are rather from
the organization's PAC, employees or owners. Totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.
Links to more campaign contribution information for Maria Cantwell
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

Committees and Affiliations


Committees in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)

Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More Background Data

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


DC office
  • 311 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
    Ph: 202-224-3441 Fax: 202-228-0514
    Webform email
District offices
  • 2930 Wetmore Avenue, Suite 9B, Everett, WA 98201
    Ph: 425-303-0114 Fax: (none entered)
  • 825 Jadwin Avenue, 204/204A, Richland, WA 99352
    Ph: 509-946-8106 Fax: (none entered)
  • 915 Second Avenue, Suite 3206, Seattle, WA 98174
    Ph: 206-220-6400 Fax: (none entered)
  • United States Federal Courthouse, West 920 Riverside Avenue, Suite 697, Spokane, WA 99201
    Ph: 509-353-2507 Fax: (none entered)
  • 950 Pacific Avenue, Suite 615, Tacoma, WA 98402
    Ph: 253-572-2281 Fax: (none entered)
  • Marshall House, 1313 Officers Row, Vancouver, WA 98661
    Ph: 360-696-7838 Fax: (none entered)
On the Web
Campaign office
  • No campaign website entered.
  • No campaign webform email entered.
  • No campaign office information entered.

Articles and resources


  1. Kevin Bogardus, "Ex-Cantwell aide pleads guilty to possession of child pornography," The Hill, February 14, 2008.
  2. Kathie Durbin, "Cantwell supporting Clinton -- for now", The Columbian, March 24, 2008

Resources and Profiles


Cantwell Websites

Local blogs and discussion sites


Articles by Cantwell

Semantic data (Edit data)