Mary Rose Oakar

Mary Oakar
Member of the Ohio House of Representatives
from the 13th district
In office
January 3, 2001  December 31, 2002
Preceded by Barbara Pringle
Succeeded by Michael Skindell
Vice Chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus
In office
January 3, 1985  January 3, 1989
Leader Tip O'Neill
Jim Wright
Preceded by Geraldine Ferraro (Secretary)
Succeeded by Steny Hoyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th district
In office
January 3, 1977  January 3, 1993
Preceded by James Stanton
Succeeded by Constituency abolished
Personal details
Born (1940-03-05) March 5, 1940
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Ursuline College
John Carroll University

Mary Rose Oakar (born March 5, 1940) is an American Democratic politician and former member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio, the first Democratic woman elected to the United States Congress from that state. She is currently a member of the Ohio State Board of Education.

Early life

Oakar, who graduated with a B.A. from Ursuline College in 1962 and an M.A. from John Carroll University in 1966, taught at Lourdes Academy, a Catholic high school for women, directed plays, taught at Cuyahoga Community College from 1968 to 1975 and served on the Cleveland City Council from 1973 to 1976 before winning election to the House from Ohio's 20th congressional district in Cleveland's West Side and the surrounding suburbs. She took office in 1977, succeeding James V. Stanton.[1]

Political career

Oakar, one of very few Arab-American members of the House, became regarded as an increasingly powerful member. She was a high-ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service and the House Administration Committee. Oakar's high placement on these committees allowed her to bring home to Cleveland large sums of money for urban renewal. Oakar forged strong relationships with Jewish groups in Cleveland. From 1985 to 1989, she was elected to a position in the House Democratic leadership, as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.[2]

In 1991, she was one of nearly 100 Members of Congress involved in the widespread House banking scandal involving multiple overdrafts and bounced checks. The House Bank, not a normally operating financial institution, was used to pay members of the house. However, members were allowed to take advances on their pay checks without overdraft charges or repercussions to their credit.[3] Oakar was indicted on seven counts, including lying to the FBI, filing false financial statements and using the House bank to convert public money for personal use. Her nephews were also indicted on conspiracy charges, one pleaded guilty. If sentenced, she could have received 40 years in prison and a $1.7 million fine.[4] In a plea agreement, she pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges; conspiracy and violation of election law. She used the names of straw donors on federal documents to conceal illegal contributions amounting to $16,000. Three counts against her were thrown out by the Supreme Court because members of the House cannot be prosecuted for lying to congress, the others were dropped after she entered a plea bargain.[5][6]

In 1992, her district was renumbered the 10th and redrawn to include more Republicans, though it was still solidly Democratic. Oakar withstood a challenge from Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan in the Democratic primary — Hagan had been endorsed by Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White — but lost to businessman Martin Hoke in the general election.

She won a 1999 libel settlement against Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer after seven years in court. In April 1992 the Cleveland's Plain Dealer released articles alleging that Oakar was forced to resign from a congressional task force after the House banking scandal. The paper acknowledged that the eight-term Democrat "was rightfully upset that erroneous information" had been printed.[7]

Oakar unsuccessfully ran in the 2001 Cleveland Mayoral Primary and served a single term in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002.

In November 2012, she was elected to a four-year term on the Ohio State Board of Education where she represents District 11.[8]


In 1979, the Supersisters trading card set was produced and distributed; one of the cards featured Oakar's name and picture.[9]

Oakar served as president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) from 2003 through 2010. ADC describes itself as the largest Arab-American grassroots civil-rights organization in the U.S.[10]


  1. "OAKAR, Mary Rose, (1940 - )". Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  2. "Women Elected to Party Leadership Positions". Women in Congress. U.S. House of Representatives. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  3. Holden Lewis (Feb 22, 2000). "Congress comes down from the hill to bank with the rest of us". Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  4. Associated Press (February 23, 1995). "Ex-Rep. Oakar Indicted in House Bank Scandal". The Los Angeles Times.
  5. "Mary Rose Oakar". Congressional Bad Boys. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  6. "Mary Rose Oakar: Representative, 1977–1993, Democrat from Ohio". Women In Congress. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  7. Lori Robertson (April 1999). "After All These Years". American Journalism Review. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  8. "Member Bio - Mary Rose Oakar" (PDF). Ohio Department of Education. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  9. Wulf, Steve (2015-03-23). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  10. "ADC Expresses its Gratitude to Mary Rose Oakar for Over 6 Years of Service and Congratulates Sara Najjar-Wilson as New ADC President". Retrieved 2013-09-13.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mary Rose Oakar.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Stanton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th congressional district

Constituency abolished
Party political offices
Preceded by
Geraldine Ferraro
as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus
Vice Chairperson of the House Democratic Caucus
Succeeded by
Steny Hoyer
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.