Bill Delahunt

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William D. "Bill" Delahunt (1941-) is the representative, in the U.S. House of Representatives, for the Tenth Congressional District of Massachusetts, made up of Cape Cod; the outlying islands including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as Boston's economically diverse South Shore. First elected in 1996, he has been reelected five times; he had no opponent in 2008.

He started his career in the private practice of law, then became District Attorney, of Norfolk County, Massachusetts from 1975 to 1996. He was a member of the Massachusetts state house of representatives from 1973 to 1975. As a District Attorney, he created the first prosecutorial unit focused on domestic violence in the United States, and prototype programs to combat violence against women that became models for prosecutors nationally and abroad.

He is a Democrat. On party-line votes, he has voted with the Democrats 98.3% of the time in the current Congress.[1]

He has two daughters, Kirstin and Kara. [2]

Committee assignments

Congressional caucuses

Committees and areas of interest

Foreign Affairs

He serves as a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs and as Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight. He is also a member of its Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, on which he has worked to improve diplomatic relations throughout Latin America and to reverse the declining image of the United States in the region.

Delahunt voted against the 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq War.

In recent years Delahunt negotiated an agreement to cut the cost of home hearing oil delivered from Venezuela to low income families in the northeast.

He co-chairs the Congressional Working Group on Cuba with Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Utah), who describes them as the "ideological bookends" of the Republican and Democratic parties, but the de facto leaders of the congressional opposition to U.S. sanctions on Cuba. He has also led efforts to reassess policies for democracy promotion in the region, including travel restrictions imposed on Americans who seek to travel to Cuba. He first became interested in Cuba on a trip there in 1988 as a Massachusetts district attorney, with a human rights group seeking release of political prisoners. Since then, he has met a number of times with Fidel Castro, but also with dissident leaders such as Oscar Espinosa Chepe, and he worked behind the scenes to try to secure their release from prison. He comments that if "human rights were the only guidepost for foreign policy, 'we would not be importing oil from Saudi Arabia.'"[3]

His daughter Kara works at a public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, which is a registered representative of the Government of Colombia. for the government of the South American nation. There are no Congressional ethics rules forbidding family members from working for foreign governments. Delahunt is among the most active members of Congress on Colombian issuesand was one of the lead Democratic supporters of Plan Colombia, a $1.3 billion aid package that Congress passed in July 2000 and made the country the third-largest recipient of American aid. "the Code of Ethics for Government Service states that a member of government should 'never accept for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.' 'The question is whether Congressman Delahunt provided special favors to his daughter or her client, the Colombian government,' said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project. 'He needs to show that his decisions were made based on facts, and not influence brought to bear by his daughter.'"[2] Delahunt's subcommittee did hold hearings on the actions of U.S. and multinational corporations toward paramilitary groups in Colombia. [4]


As a member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, he brings a perspective both as a prosecutor and in protecting civil rights. He has special interests in preventing domestic violence, streamlining international adoptions and minimizing wrongful convictions.

Coast Guard

He is co-chair of the bipartisan Coast Guard Caucus


Delahunt is a member of the House Older Americans Caucus.

Activities in the District

Closer to home, Delahunt is helping the redevelopment of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, working to expand marine transportation services, and promoting economic development in areas such as renewable energy, biofuels and ocean technology. He is a strong booster of heritage tourism, wetlands restoration, and a defender of the region’s ocean sanctuaries and National Parks.

On Cape Cod, he led efforts to clean up the Massachusetts Military Reservation, and the establishment of the 15,000 acre Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve to protect Cape Cod’s water supplies. He also worked to save the Reservation, the major facility on which is Otis Air Force Base, during the last round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and is helping to make it a regional center for homeland security.

Delahunt has also secured funds to expand the region’s public transportation system and bike trails while helping local health care clinics, including establishment of a new primary care center on the Cape and Islands for veterans.

Representing a coastal district, he has actively sought ways to promote collaboration and “consensus” between environmental and economic interests – such as, creating an innovative whale-safe gear program for local fishermen.


He is a 1963 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, of which he is now a member of the Board of Trustees. and has a law degree from Boston College (1967).

He served from 1963 to 1971 in the Coast Guard Reserve. He is a lifelong resident of Quincy, Massachusetts.

In his current financial disclosure form, he reports pension income from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and bank interest.

Voting ratings

Organization Rating Date
American Civil Liberties Union
American Conservative Union
Americans for Democratic Action
Cato Institute
Christian Coalition
Human Rights Campaign
League of Conservation Voters
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Rifle Association
National Right to Life Committee
National Taxpayers Union
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Sources: Links to the voting ratings guides of the above organizations together with brief descriptive information on the organizations themselves, may be found at:

2008 Election

Candidate Party Vote total Percentage
Bill Delahunt Democrat 272,899 98.64%
scattered votes --- 3,774 1.36%

Source: Federal Election Results - final official tally