Marilyn Neoma Musgrave (born January 27, 1949), American politician, has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 2003, representing the 4th District of Colorado (map). The district takes up most of eastern Colorado outside the Denver and Colorado Springs-Pueblo metropolitan areas, but most of its vote is cast in Fort Collins and Greeley.
She is best known nationally as the main sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Her proposed Amendment to the United States Constitution would ban any state from recognizing same-sex marriage. She was quoted in the New York Times and Fort Collins Coloradoan as stating, "As we face the issues that we are facing today, I don’t think there’s anything more important out there than the marriage issue."
Musgrave is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the U.S. House Committee on Small Business.
Musgrave was born in Greeley and was educated at Colorado State University, graduating with a B.A. in 1972. Her career in elective office began in 1991, when she served one term on the school board of Fort Morgan. She served in the Colorado House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997 and in the Colorado Senate from 1997 until her election to Congress in 2002. Musgrave married Steve Musgrave while attending CSU and started a farm after graduating, in addition to teaching school. The Musgraves have four children and are members of the Pentecostal Assembly of God, and Musgrave is one of four Pentecostals serving in the 109th Congress.
Musgrave was one of the most conservative members of the state legislature. She spent most of her time on social issues and her political career began in part because she wanted to change local sex education to abstinence only education. She also worked against allowing adoption, civil unions, and marriage for same-sex couples. In another area she was active on small business and agricultural issues, particularly authoring bills to exempt farm equipment dealers from sales tax and lowering taxes on small business.
The National Journal ranks Musgrave the 23rd most conservative representative. She is one of only two members of the 2003 Republican freshman class with a perfect 100 voting record from the American Conservative Union (the other being Scott Garrett of New Jersey), and is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee and its Values Action Team.
Musgrave opposes abortion. She strongly opposes gun control in the gun politics and is the founder of the 2nd Amendment Caucus. According to her website, she believes that government intrudes too much on family affairs. She also advocates changing the laws to lend more support to families who home-school their children.
In 2002, after Congressman Bob Schaffer retired, Musgrave ran for and won the Republican nomination to succeed him. She received a big boost in the primary when she gained the endorsements of Schaffer and former Senator William Armstrong. She was quickly labeled as far too conservative even for the 4th, which had not elected a Democrat since 1972. However, that label had been applied to her three most recent predecessors — Hank Brown, Wayne Allard and Schaffer — without much success. Several Republican strategists suggested that if Musgrave lost, it would have been a sign that the Republicans had lost everything in Colorado.
In November, due to the strong Republican lean of the district, a large campaign war chest, and the reelection bid of popular Republican Governor Bill Owens, Musgrave defeated Democratic State Senate President Stan Matsunaka 55% to 42%.
In 2004, Musgrave faced Matsunaka again. Despite outspending him by over a million dollars, she only defeated him 51% to 45%. The closeness of the race can be attributed to the demographics of this large and mostly rural district. Most of its vote is cast in three counties--Larimer, Boulder and Weld. Musgrave lost in Larimer County, home to Fort Collins and the largest whole county in the district. She also lost the district's share of Boulder County, including Longmont. However, she defeated Matsunaka in Weld County, home to Greeley, by 15 points--far larger than the overall margin of victory. Had it not been for Musgrave's victory in Weld County, she would have been defeated. She was also undoubtedly helped by George W. Bush's landslide win in the district.
Several reasons have been given for this unusually tight margin, at least compared to the district's previous history. One factor was Musgrave's singular focus on social issues, including the Federal Marriage Amendment. She also picked a fight with powerful Transportation Committee chairman Don Young that cost her district a large amount of funding for road repair. She was also criticized for allegedly poor constituent services.
Musgrave was the subject of negative ads during the 2004 election season funded by Colorado philanthropists such as Tim Gill. The ads featured an actress dressed up like Musgrave picking a corpse's pocket and stealing from a soldier.
After the 2004 elections, Musgrave was put on a National Republican Congressional Committee list of vulnerable incumbents, which is very unusual since the 4th has long been considered a safe Republican seat, or at least a seat where it would take a unique set of circumstances for a Democrat to win.
In November, Musgave will face Democratic state representative Angie Paccione, who has received the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In late 2005, former Reagan EPA appointee Eric Eidsness announced that he was considering a primary challenge to Musgrave, but in March 2006, Eidsness left the Republican Party and announced he was running for the seat on the Reform Party ticket.
Rolling Stone magazine in an October 2006 issue, named Musgrave as one of the 10 worst Congressman. The article states that she "has made regulating the bedroom behavior of her fellow Americans the focus of her entire career." It also quotes Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts as saying, "If you're going to have someone who's a hater, it's best that she's not very bright. I appeared with her in a couple of forums to debate her bill, but she's totally incapable of even explaining what it says."
In September 2006, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group", listed Musgrave as of the "20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress". The organization said "Her ethics issues stem from the misuse of official resources for political campaign activity and from abuse of franking privileges. "All of which is not true," Musgrave's chief of staff Guy Short said.
In 2004, both Musgrave's district office and campaign headquarters were located at 5401 Stone Creek Circle in Loveland, Colorado. The congressional campaign was run out of what was called suite 777, while her district office was in suite 204. The building has only two floors; suite 777 is on the second floor. The only two entrances to the campaign office are through an outside door and through the congressional office itself. Ceri Anderson, the managing broker for the building, said in an October 2004 Journal-Advocate article that the outside door is a fire door with an alarm on it, and that campaign office was using it as its main entrance. She also said that the two offices had separate leases. The publisher of the Fort Morgan Times reported that same month that the floor plan of the building showed four suites on each floor, and that suites 201 through 203 were occupied by other tenants; presumably the original suite 204 was subdivided.
In October 2006, Anderson told the Greeley Tribune that the interior door connecting the two offices was locked and campaign personnel wouldn't have been able to use it to enter the congressional office.
In mid-2004, Musgrave sent a letter endorsing district attorney candidate Bob Watson. Musgrave said that the endorsement was sent on campaign stationary. The publisher of the Fort Morgan Times, who had taken the letter to be on congressional stationary, said in an October 2004 article that he was told in August by an official with the House franking office that the franking office had reviewed the Musgrave letter prior to its mailing, approving it as a campaign letter, but that the official believed the letter was deliberately written to appear as congressional stationary. Musgrave told the publisher that Watson's campaign paid for the printing and mailing, but the publisher said that neither Watson nor Musgrave had provided, despite repeated requests, any proof of that.
In October 2006, Short gave copies of the endorsement letter and congressional letterhead to the Greeley Tribune. The endorsement letter contained an image of a capitol dome with "Rep. Marilyn Musgrave" and "Member of Congress" below it. The congressional letterhead didn't have a dome and Musgrave's name appeared in the corner. Short noted that "Paid for by the Committee to Elect Bob Watson DA" also appeared on the mailer and again said that Watson had paid all postage and production costs.
On March 3, 2006, Musgrave served as the Master of Ceremonies at the Larimer County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner. During the dinner, two uniformed US Marines were "honored" by being introduced on stage by Musgrave. A photograph of one of the Marines standing next to Musgrave was published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, and that photograph "touched off a firestorm from national political writers and Web bloggers who say the party is using the military as public relations props."
According to department of defense directives, members on active duty shall not "participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (except as a spectator when not in uniform), or make public speeches in the course thereof."
There was disagreement as to whether the Marines attending as honorees violated military regulations. A Pentagon memo read "Members of the armed forces may not attend partisan political events in uniform, even if only as 'honorees.' A sharply limited exception is made to provide armed forces color guards for national-level political conventions.", while a Marine Corps spokesman said "The Marines were in attendance because they were asked to attend to be honored for their service and not as attendees at a political event, there is nothing wrong with Marines being asked to appear in public and being honored for their service."
Musgrave received $30,000 in campaign contributions from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ARMPAC. After DeLay was indicted on charges related to another political action committee, TRMPAC, Musgrave refused to return the money or donate it to charity. Noting that the Congresswoman had not received any money from TRMPAC, Musgrave spokesman Guy Short said, "Every dollar she's received is legal".