by David Prentice
January 23, 2009
POSITION: SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
NOMINEE: Thomas J. Vilsack
BIRTH DATE: December 12, 1950 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Bachelor’s degree 1972, Hamilton College in New York
J.D. 1975, Albany Law School
FAMILY: Wife Christie Vilsack; two sons, Jess and Doug
FRC SCORECARD: NA
Of Counsel, Des Moines office of Minneapolis-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney, May 1, 2007
Candidate for President, Nov 30, 2006-Feb 23, 2007
Governor of Iowa, 1998-2005
Iowa State Senate in 1992
Mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987
“A Catholic who supports abortion rights”
“I oppose abortion, personally. I don’t like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception.”
Vilsack vetoed a waiting period for abortions and signed a health insurance regulation law without the right to sue he had sought.
ON CLONING AND STEM CELLS
“Several years ago we limited medical research involving nuclear cell transplants [cloning] at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. At the time we never dreamt that new treatments dependent upon such transplants would be developed so quickly. Well, they have been, and as a result we should revisit our ban on nuclear cell transplants. We should remove the restrictions and allow life saving treatments to be administered to Iowans here in Iowa rather than forcing them to leave our state.”
From 2006 state of the state address
[NOTE: there have been no treatments developed from nuclear transplant cloning, or from embryonic stem cells; no stem cells have even been obtained from nuclear transfer cloned human embryos.]
“Scientists should pursue embryonic stem cell research”
“New discoveries require us to think differently and approach things differently,” Vilsack said. “Several years ago we placed on a ban on certain types of medical research involving nuclear cell transplants because we never dreamt the treatments resulting from that research would develop so quickly into life-saving treatments, but they have.”
[NOTE: no treatments have been developed using embryonic stem cells, and no clinical trials have yet been approved by the FDA or any foreign regulatory body.]
[Update: the FDA has now approved Geron to begin experiments on patients using embryonic stem cells, starting in the summer of 2009.]
ON HOMOSEXUAL SPECIAL RIGHTS and SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
In April 2000, the legislature repealed Vilsack’s order banning discrimination in state employment against gays lesbians, and transexuals; Vilsack vetoed that and in the fall 22 legislators sued, charging he exceeded his powers-a state judge declared Vilsack’s order invalid.
“I don’t think you necessarily have to redefine marriage to do it. A civil union set of rights would honor that,” Vilsack said. “Marriage is already defined and we don’t need to change it.”
The Constitution should not be amended to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Hosted Governor’s Conference on LGBT Youth. (Feb 2006)
ON GLOBAL WARMING
“… We’ve been ignoring global warming. We’ve been saying it’s not a problem or, … we don’t think it’s scientifically proven. Well, the reality is, the rest of the world knows it’s a problem and we can’t provide any moral leadership until we recognize it’s a problem.”
The government should regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.
Vilsack was abandoned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted in 1951 by Bud and Dolly Vilsack, who raised him in the Roman Catholic faith.
In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic Governors. In the first report, he raised over half a million dollars.