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|In office January 24, 2003 – February 1, 2005|
|George W. Bush|
|In office October 5, 2001 – January 24, 2003|
|George W. Bush|
|In office January 17, 1995 – October 5, 2001|
|In office January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1995|
|Thomas Joseph Ridge (1945-08-26) August 26, 1945 (age 67) Munhall, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|Harvard University Dickinson School of Law|
|United States Army|
|23rd Infantry Division|
|Bronze Star National Defense Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal Vietnam Gallantry Cross Combat Infantryman Badge|
Thomas Joseph "Tom" Ridge (born August 26, 1945) is an American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives (1983–1995), the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania (1995–2001), Assistant to the President for Homeland Security (2001–2003), and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2003–2005). He is a member of the Republican Party. Since re-entering the private sector, Ridge has served on the boards of The Home Depot, The Hershey Company and Exelon Corporation and as a senior advisor to Deloitte & Touche, and TechRadium. Ridge is also the founder and CEO of Ridge Global, LLC, a Washington, D.C. based security consulting firm. Ridge spent time campaigning with Senator John McCain during his 2008 bid for the presidency and was believed by some to have been in the short list of potential running mates.
Ridge was born in Munhall, Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh's Steel Valley, the oldest of three children. His parents were Laura (née Sudimack) and Thomas Regis Ridge, who was a traveling salesman and Navy veteran. Ridge's maternal grandparents were Carpatho-Rusyn immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), and his paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Great Britain. Ridge was raised in veterans' public housing in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was educated at St. Andrews Elementary School and Cathedral Preparatory School and did well both academically and in sports. He earned a scholarship to Harvard College, where he paid his way through with construction work, played intramural baseball and football, and graduated with honors in 1967.
After his first year at the Dickinson School of Law, he was drafted into the United States Army, where he served as an infantry staff sergeant in the 23rd Infantry Division during the Vietnam War. He earned the Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Later, he was offered a commission as an officer but turned it down when he learned that it would require an extra year of service.
A ruptured appendix cut short his tour and he returned home in 1970; service also aggravated a childhood ear infection. Since then Ridge has had a hearing aid in his left ear.
After returning to Pennsylvania, he completed his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at the Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 1972, and entered private practice.Public service in Pennsylvania
He became Assistant District Attorney in Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1980 and prosecuted 86 cases in two years. In 1982 he successfully ran for a seat in Congress from northwestern Pennsylvania, and was re-elected six times. Ridge was notable as the first enlisted Vietnam combat veteran elected to the U.S. House. As of 2009, Ridge has never lost an election for public office.Congressman Ridge during the 104th Congress
In 1994, despite being little-known outside of northwest Pennsylvania, Ridge ran for Governor. He won the election as a pro-choice Republican. He was reelected in 1998 with 57 percent of the vote in a four-way race. His share of the vote in that election was the highest for a Republican governor in Pennsylvania (where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000) in more than half a century. Ridge served as Governor until his resignation to become the Director of Homeland Security in 2001.
One of Ridge's more controversial actions as governor was his nomination of Dr. Peter J. Jannetta to be the State Secretary of Health. Jannetta was had previously been accused of committing perjury, with the State's Superior Court stating, "We have little difficulty in concluding that Dr. Jannetta's testimony at deposition was different than, or inconsistent with, the testimony at trial." Jannetta was not, however, ever convicted of perjury. Jannetta served as Health Secretary for 6 months.
During his time as governor, Ridge promoted "law and order" policies, supporting a three-strikes law and a faster death penalty process. A death penalty supporter, Ridge signed more than 224 execution warrants – five times the number signed over a 25-year period by the two previous governors – but only three voluntary executions were carried out. On social issues, he opposed gay marriage, and, in spite of being a Roman Catholic, is pro-choice on abortion issues.
Over Ridge's tenure, the Commonwealth's budget grew by two to three percent per fiscal year and combined tax reductions totaled over $2 billion. Ridge created and grew a "Rainy Day" Fund balance to over $1 billion to be utilized during an economic downturn or recession.
Ridge pushed for legislation permitting competition among electric utilities and enhanced federal and state support for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). He also separated the Commonwealth's environmental regulatory and conservation programs into two new agencies; the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Ridge proposed the creation of public charter schools in Pennsylvania and in establishing alternate schools for disruptive students. He launched new academic standards that established academic expectations for what students were expected to know in different grades. Ridge also proposed a school choice demonstration program.
Ridge oversaw a number of e-government projects including renewing drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations to viewing historical documents and library catalogs. The Commonwealth's portal won several national awards. One of the nation's first electronic grant systems was put into place at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Ridge also created the Link-to-Learn initiative to increase the effective use of technology in public schools and universities.
In 2001, he was named runner up "Politician of the Year" by PoliticsPA. In a 2002 PoliticsPA Feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, he was named the "Most Popular."2000 Presidential election
Ridge was a potential running mate for Bob Dole in 1996, and served as a close advisor to GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush, a close friend from their simultaneous tenures as governors, during the 2000 presidential campaign. In return, Bush named Ridge to his short list for possible running mates, along with New York Governor George Pataki, Michigan Governor John Engler, Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former Missouri Senator John Danforth, and former American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole.
Ridge was also reportedly Colin Powell's choice to be Secretary of Defense in Bush's new cabinet. With his reputation as a former Congressman and a strong administrator as governor, in addition to his friendship with Bush and Powell, he was seen as a frontrunner for the post. But he lost this presumptive appointment after much decrying by conservatives over his lack of defense experience, particularly by Republican primary candidate Gary Bauer, who decried Ridge as a "peacenik-type of congressman during the Reagan years" and Robert Novak who wrote of Ridge's lack of defense experience and his opposition to the Strategic Defense Initiative. There was also rumored to be animosity between Powell and Dick Cheney regarding Ridge. Ridge took his name out of the running, and Donald Rumsfeld was eventually named as defense secretary.Homeland Security Advisor and SecretaryTom Ridge and John Ashcroft (May 11, 2004, Washington, D.C.)
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush created the Office of Homeland Security within the White House, and named Ridge to head it. The charge to the nation's new director of homeland security was to develop and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen the United States against terrorist threats or attacks. In the words of President George W. Bush, he had the strength, experience, personal commitment and authority to accomplish this critical mission. Ridge formally resigned as Pennsylvania's governor on October 5, 2001.
In January 2003 and after the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Homeland Security split into a Cabinet-level Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Advisory Council. Ridge left the White House and became the first Secretary of Homeland Security. The Department's Mission "is to (A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; (B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and (C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States" (From H.R. 5005-8 the Homeland Security Act of 2002). The newly created Department was the most comprehensive reorganization of the Federal government since the National Security Act of 1947. The Department of Homeland Security consolidates 22 agencies and 180,000 employees, unifying once-fragmented Federal functions in a single agency dedicated to protecting America from terrorism. Ridge worked with the employees from combined agencies to strengthen borders, provide for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, improve the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and to create a comprehensive response and recovery division.
On November 30, 2004, Ridge submitted his resignation to the President, saying, "After more than 22 consecutive years of public service, it is time to give personal and family matters a higher priority." In his book The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, Ridge says his resignation was due to an effort by senior Bush administration officials to raise the nation's terror alert level in the days before the 2004 presidential vote.Controversies Support for the listed "terrorist" group People's Mujahedin of Iran
Former Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell included Ridge among a group of former U.S. officials who have been lobbying and building support for the "de-listing" of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK, also PMOI, MKO) from the U.S. State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. MEK has been accused of successful and unsuccessful attempts to kidnap or murder U.S. officials in the 1970s. They joined Saddam Hussein's military to fight against Iran in the U.S.-backed 8 year war between Iraq and Iran that produced 1.5 million casualties. They have also been accused of partnering with Israel's Mossad in the assassination of several of Iran's nuclear scientists. Ridge has been among those investigated for receiving tens of thousands of dollars for their lobbying efforts for the organization.Involvement with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
It has been reported that Ridge was an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) member, and that this was behind a prison-building spree during his tenure as Governor of Pennsylvania. ALEC is a conservative-leaning organization which facilitates meetings between corporate representatives and, most commonly, Republican politicians to draft legislation that is favorable to the interests of member corporations.Work in the private sector
Ridge is the founder and CEO of Ridge Global, an advisory firm in Washington, D.C.
In 2010, Ridge’s two former Chiefs of Staff Mark Campbell and Mark Holman opened a lobbying firm after Ridge lent the firm his name. The full-service government affairs firm has offices in Harrisburg, PA, and Washington, D.C.
In July 2010, companies seeking to use hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation engaged Ridge and Ridge Policy Group at $75,000 a month to help them gain support.Home Depot
In February 2005, Tom Ridge was named to the board of Home Depot. Ridge's compensation was expected to be about $100,000 per annum for this position. Since April 2005, Ridge has also served on the board of Savi Technology, the primary technology provider for the wireless cargo-monitoring network for the United States Department of Defense.Exelon Corporation
In April, 2005, Ridge's appointment to the board of the Illinois/Pennsylvania/New Jersey electric utility was announced, with starting director compensation of $35,000 annual retainer plus a $1,500 meeting fee or per diem fee. Directors were also granted $60,000 in deferred stock units each year at that time.
In 2010, it was reported that Ridge had appeared on MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews promoting nuclear energy as part of a "green agenda ... create jobs, create exports," without any revelation by him or the cable channel of his Exelon position. In the report, his cumulative Exelon-derived compensation was put at $530,659; and it was said that, as of March 2009, he held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings. Exelon was described as "the nation's largest nuclear power company."Deloitte LLP
In November 2007, Ridge was named to serve on The Hershey Company's Executive Board. The Hershey Trust, the primary shareholder of Hershey, asked for a change in board composition after several years of poor stock performance. The board named Ridge to the board for his knowledge of economics.TechRadium Inc
Announced in January 2008, Tom Ridge will serve as a senior advisor to TechRadium, Inc., a Texas-based security technology company that provides its patented alert and notification system, IRIS (Immediate Response Information System), to a wide range of users including municipalities, public schools and universities, utilities, and military programs.PURE Bioscience
In September 2009, PURE Bioscience, creator of a patented antimicrobial, announced Ridge would serve on its Advisory Board along with former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson.2008 Presidential election
According to Fox News, many Republicans hoped Ridge would run for the United States Senate against the newly turned Democrat Arlen Specter, who stated he would seek re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary. Already seeking the Republican nomination was former Representative Pat Toomey, who narrowly lost to Specter in the Republican primary in 2004. Some Republicans thought Ridge would have a better chance against Specter than would Toomey. A Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll conducted between April 30, 2009 and May 3, 2009 placed Ridge within three points of Specter in a hypothetical matchup between the two men. Some Toomey supporters criticized the idea of a Ridge candidacy because, although Ridge was still registered to vote in Pennsylvania, he was actually living in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
On May 7, 2009, Ridge announced that he would not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010.Memoirs
Tom Ridge's book The Test of Our Times was published in September 2009. Written with Larry Bloom, it concerns Ridge's time as the head of the Department of Homeland Security. He explains the challenges and decision making processes of the newly formed department, and gives his own views as to the future of the security of the United States of America. The book further discusses"the infighting he saw that frustrated his attempts to build a smooth-running department. Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was 'blindsided' by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."
Ridge wrote in his memoir that then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft pressured him to raise the terror alert level, running up to the 2004 elections, because of a pre-election message critical of President Bush from Osama Bin Laden.
He now does after-dinner speeches around the world. In July 2010, a controversy surrounded Ridge's warning that countries would face the wrath of al-Qaeda and countries such as Ireland could be at risk of "terrorist" attacks.2012 Presidential election
Ridge originally endorsed former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman for president, in September 2011. Mitt Romney announced an endorsement from Ridge on March 14, 2012.Subsequent Career
In 2013, Ridge was a signatory to an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage during the Hollingsworth v. Perry case.Recognition
Tom's wife, Michele Ridge, is the former executive director of the Erie County Library System. They have been married since 1979 and have two children: Lesley and Tommy.Gubernatorial electoral history
|Republican||Tom Ridge (incumbent)||1,736,844||57.42|
|Libertarian||Ken V. Krawchuk||33,591||1.10|