Yvette Clarke

Yvette Clarke
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Bob Turner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th district
In office
January 3, 2007  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Major Owens
Succeeded by Michael Grimm
Personal details
Born Yvette Diane Clarke
(1964-11-21) November 21, 1964
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Oberlin College
Medgar Evers College

Yvette Diane Clarke (born November 21, 1964) is a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York. Clarke's district was numbered the 11th district from 2007 to 2013, and redistricted as the 9th district in 2013 covering much of central Brooklyn.

Before entering Congress in 2007, Clarke was a member of the New York City Council, representing the 40th council district in Brooklyn, succeeding her mother, Una S. T. Clarke.[1]

Early life and education

The child of Jamaican immigrant parents, Clarke has lived all her life in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Upon graduating from Edward R. Murrow High School, she earned a scholarship to Oberlin College in Ohio, which she attended from 1982 to 1986, and before graduating Oberlin she enrolled at Medgar Evers College,[2] but did not graduate.[3]

Graduation confusion

Clarke's 2004-05 campaign listed that she graduated from Oberlin College, the Daily News researched and found out that she did not graduate,[4] but rather went on to enroll at Medgar Evers College.[3][4][5]

Early career

Clarke worked as director of business development for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and was the second director of the Bronx portion of the New York City Empowerment Zone.[6] At some point, she interned for Congressman Major Owens.[7]

New York City Council

Brooklyn's 40th council district elected Clarke to the New York City Council in 2001. She succeeded her mother, former City Council member Una S. T. Clarke,[1] who held the seat for more than a decade, making theirs the first mother-to-daughter succession in city council.

She cosponsored City Council resolutions that opposed the war in Iraq, criticized the federal USA PATRIOT Act, and called for a national moratorium on the death penalty. She was a frequent critic of the Bush administration's policies, and opposed budget cuts by Bush and the Republican Congress on several programs addressing women's rights and poverty. She later voted against extending provisions of the Patriot Act after the election of President Barack Obama.[8]

U.S. House of Representatives

The 9th district subsequently called the 11th in 2003 includes Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Kensington, Midwood, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Park Slope.

Policy positions

Israel Clarke's poicies on Israel are mixed. Her district is roughly one quarter Jewish,[9] and some constituents have criticized her stances on Israel.[10][11]

In 2010, Clarke signed two petitions asking Obama to pressure Israel to resove the Gaza Blockade,[10][11] which she later retracted.[10] This came shortly after she voted against a resolution (see Goldstone Report) which she claimed was unfair to Israel.[10]

In 2015 Clarke indicated she would vote for President Obama's the "Iran nuclear deal", despite requests from her Jewish constituents to vote against the deal which Israeli leaders see as a threat to Israel's existence.[12][13][14][15][9][16]

Abortion Clarke is pro-choice and during her tenure in the House of Representatives has consistently voted against legislation that would place restrictions on abortion rights, including voting against passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011, which sought to prohibit federal funds from being allocated to cover abortions.[17]

Her voting record in support of abortion rights has led interest groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood to give her high ratings (100% each) while her ratings from pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee have been correspondingly low (0%).[18]

Budget, Spending and Tax Issues She received a 92% rating from the National Journal for being liberal on economic policy in 2011, while she received a low 15% rating from the National Taxpayers Union for her positions on tax and spending in 2011, and a 2% rating from the Citizens Against Government Waste in 2010.[18] She has consistently opposed legislation which seeks to reduce government spending and cut taxes, including voting against the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012 which sought to extend tax cuts established during George W. Bush's administration through the end of 2013.[17]

Environmental Policy Clarke received 100 percent ratings from Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, the latter on her clean water positions, in 2011 while she received a low rating of 14% over the period 2008–11 from the Global Exchange for her loyalty to the finance, insurance, and real estate lobbies.[18]

She has opposed legislation which gives priority to economic over conservation interests, such as the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 and the Conservation and Economic Growth Act of 2012, while she has supported legislation which increases conservation efforts and government regulation of industry, such as the Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments Act of 2010.[17]

In the media

On the Colbert Report, in its "Better Know a District" segment in early September 2012, when Stephen Colbert asked the three-term congresswoman what she'd have changed back in 1898 (the year Brooklyn merged with New York City) if she could go back in time, the congresswoman responded the abolition of slavery. Colbert responded, "Slavery…Really? I didn't realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898". (Slavery was abolished in New York state in 1827.)[19]) Clarke responded immediately with, "I'm pretty sure there was" stating the Dutch owned slaves in New York in 1898.[19][19][20][21] The next day, the congresswoman was unavailable for comment, and her media representative stated the statements were meant in humor.[22]

Committee assignments


In April 2007, Clarke was the sole member of Congress to oppose a bill to rename the Ellis Island Library after British-born Bob Hope.[23]

On September 29, 2008, she voted in support of HR 3997, the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008. The act failed, 205–228. She wrote legislation written to improve the process of removing names off the No Fly List, which passed 413–3 on February 3, 2009.[24] In November 2009 she was one of 54 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama, urging him to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza.

On March 25, 2010, she introduced the "International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act – H.R.4962" before Congress.[25]

Clarke supported the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument Preservation Act (H.R. 1501; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park in the New York City borough of Brooklyn as a unit of the National Park System (NPS).[26] Clarke argued the bill was a good idea because "this monument commemorates not only the sacrifices of soldiers in the Revolutionary War who dedicated themselves to the cause of liberty, but a reminder than even in wartime we must protect basic human rights. These thousands of deaths were an atrocity that should never occur again."[27]

On September 17, 2013, Clarke introduced the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (H.R. 3107; 113th Congress), a bill that would require the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake several actions designed to improve the readiness and capacity of DHS's cybersecurity workforce.[28][29] DHS would also be required to create a strategy for recruiting and training additional cybersecurity employees.[30]

Caucus memberships

2016 Presidential Election

Congresswomen Clarke has endorsed Hillary Clinton in her capacity as a super delegate for the Democratic Presidential nomination.[31]

Political campaigns

Yvette Clarke (right) with fellow congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio (left) and Laura Richardson of California (center).

In 2000, her mother ran in the Democratic primary against U.S. Congressman Major Owens, losing to him. In the 2004 election cycle, Yvette Clarke, with only two-and-a-half years' of service as an elected official, campaigned for the same seat, narrowly losing. Owens called these campaigns as well as Yvette's 2006 bid, "long-term double-cross and stab in the back" as Una Clarke and he had been allies,[32] and Yvette had interned for him.[7]


In May 2006, another Caribbean-American candidate, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, withdrew from the race to succeed Congressman Major Owens, leading some observers to contend that Clarke's chances for winning the race would improve now that another candidate from the same community was no longer competing.

In August 2006, the New York Daily News uncovered the fact that Clarke was misrepresenting her educational background in her campaign literature, stating that she had graduated from Oberlin College.[33] The paper found that she didn't complete her coursework at Oberlin and had subsequently enrolled at Medgar Evers College, but did not graduate.[2][34] The questions of whether she had graduated and from which college were the subject of controversy during her 2006 campaign,[2][33][34][35][36] with her then-PR representative saying she attended Oberlin and finished at Medgar Evers — "case closed".[33][34] In 2011 another PR representative for the congresswoman told Crain's that the congresswoman had re-enrolled at Oberlin in order to complete the credits necessary for the awarding of her degree.[3]

On September 12, 2006, Clarke won the nomination to Congress with just 31.20% of the vote. (In multi-candidate congressional elections in New York, a plurality is sufficient to nominate.) This practically assured her of election in this overwhelmingly Democratic, black-majority district. In the general election on November 7, Clarke was elected to the House of Representatives with 89% of the vote against token Republican opposition.


Clarke was re-elected on November 4, 2008 by a large margin.


Clarke was re-elected on November 2, 2010 by a large margin.


She had $50,000 in her campaign budget before the June primary.[37]


  2. 1 2 3 Celeste Katz, New York Daily News, Daily Politics: Yvette's Education Archived January 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., August 23, 2006
  3. 1 2 3 Crain's New York Business, Clarke Still Seeking Diploma, March 2, 2011
  4. 1 2 Healy, Patrick (August 23, 2006). "Yvette Clarke's Oberlin Education". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  5. Moore, Tina (September 5, 2012). "Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn tells Stephen Colbert the Dutch enslaved blacks in Brooklyn in 1898". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 1, 2015.
  6. VoteNY, Biography: Yvette D. Clarke, 2012
  7. 1 2 "Major Owens dies at 77". October 22, 2013.
  8. "The U.S. Congress Votes Database". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  9. 1 2 Kornbluh, Jacob. "Crown Heights Banners Target Rep. Clarke Over Iran Deal Vote". JP Updates. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Dickter, Adam. "Clarke Gets An Earful On Israel". The Jewish Week. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. 1 2 "Yvette Clarke takes Step Against Israel, Again". July 3, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  12. Berman, Yackov (July 30, 2015). "An Open Letter to Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  13. "Rep. Clarke Ignores Constituency, Supports Iran Deal". Crown Heights Info. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  14. "Locals Reach Out to Rep. Clarke". COLLIVE. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  15. Yaacov Behrman (July 30, 2015). "An Open Letter To Congresswoman Yvette Clarke". The Brooklyn Reader. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  16. "Crown Heights Jews Campaign Congresswoman to Block Iran Deal". Arutz Sheva. August 4, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  17. 1 2 3 "Yvette Clarke's Voting Records". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  18. 1 2 3 "Yvette Clarke's Ratings and Endorsements - The Voter's Self Defense System - Vote Smart". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  19. 1 2 3 "Brooklyn Democrat Makes Slavery Gaffe On 'The Colbert Report'". September 5, 2012.
  20. King, James (September 5, 2012). "Congresswoman Yvette Clarke On The 1898 Dutch Enslavement Of Brooklyn (That Never Actually Happened)".
  21. "Rep. Yvette Clarke of Brooklyn tells Stephen Colbert the Dutch enslaved blacks in Brooklyn in 1898". Daily News. New York. September 5, 2012.
  22. "Yvette Clarke's Spokeswoman Says Colbert Appearance Was Supposed Be Funny".
  23. Rizk, Christie (2007-04-14). "No Hope for Yvette". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  24. Sykes, Ronnie (February 4, 2009). "Rep. Yvette D. Clarke's FAST Redress Act Passes the U.S. House of Representatives". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  25. "H.R.4962 – International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act". Open Congress Organization. March 25, 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  26. "H.R. 1501 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  27. "Congresswoman Clarke Urges Designation Prison Ship Martyrs Monument as a National Monument". Office of Yvette D. Clarke. April 29, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  28. "H.R. 3107 – Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  29. "H.R. 3107 – CBO" (PDF). Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  30. Medici, Andy (July 29, 2014). "House passes DHS cyber bills". Federal Times. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
  31. Mali, Meghashyam (15 April 2015). "Hillary racks up endorsements for 2016".
  32. Bernstein, Adam (October 22, 2013). "Major R. Owens, liberal congressman known as 'Rappin' Rep,' dies at 77". Washington Post.
  33. 1 2 3 New York Observer, Clarke's Diploma, August 23, 2006
  34. 1 2 3 "Yvette Clarke's Oberlin Education". New York Times. August 23, 2006.
  35. Government Printing Office, First-Term Black-American Members of the 110th Congress, 2007, page 1
  36. Stephanie Gaskell, New York Post, Fibbing to a Degree, August 24, 2006
  37. "Marty for Congress? Don't fuggedaboutit!". Crains New York.
Civic offices
Preceded by
Una Clarke
Member of the New York City Council
from the 40th district

Succeeded by
Mathieu Eugene
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Major Owens
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

Succeeded by
Michael Grimm
Preceded by
Bob Turner
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Kathy Castor
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Steve Cohen
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