Joe Scarborough

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Joe Scarborough
Born April 9, 1963
Atlanta, Georgia
Occupation U.S. Congressman for Florida's 1st District (1995-2001), attorney, television & radio host
Religion Baptist
Spouse Melanie Hinton (1986-1999)
Susan Scarborough (2001-present)
Parents George & Mary Jo Scarborough
Children Joey, Andrew, Kate

Charles Joseph "Joe" Scarborough (b. April 10 1963) is a Republican politician who represented Florida's 1st Congressional District in the United States Congress from 1995 to 2001. He is currently the host of the program Morning Joe and former host of Scarborough Country on MSNBC.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Scarborough graduated from Pensacola's Catholic High School (although he is not a Roman Catholic). He received a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1985 and a J.D. from University of Florida's law school (since named for Fred Levin) in 1990.[1] He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 1991.[1] Scarborough taught high school and practiced law in Pensacola for several years,[2] during which time he wrote and produced CDs with his band Dixon Mills.[3]

His most high-profile case was that of Christian terrorist Michael F. Griffin, later convicted of killing abortion doctor David Gunn. At the request of Griffin's family, Scarborough (who is himself pro-life) initially represented Griffin. The judge refused his request to defend Griffin during the criminal trial, citing the inexperience of Scarborough, a civil lawyer, regarding criminal law. Scarborough assisted Griffin in obtaining a trial attorney.[4]

Scarborough's first major foray into politics was assisting with a petition drive in late 1993 opposing a 65 percent increase in city property taxes. During the drive he made numerous contacts that would prove valuable in his upcoming Congressional race.[2]

Congressional career[edit]

In 1994, Scarborough won the Republican nomination for Florida's 1st congressional district, which came open after the incumbent Democrat Earl Hutto did not run for reelection. He was elected with 61 percent of the vote, becoming the first Republican to represent the 1st District since its formation after the 1900 Census (it was the 3rd District from 1903 to 1963). He was reelected three times with no serious opposition, even running unopposed in 1998 and 2000.

Scarborough was regarded as a reliable conservative, receiving a 95 percent life time rating from the American Conservative Union.[5]. He signed the Contract with America, and was part of the 1994 Republican takeover of the House, led by Newt Gingrich. Scarborough served on the Armed Services, Judiciary, Government Reform, and Education committees. In 1998, he was named Chairman of the Civil Service Committee.

Scarborough was one of a group of about 40 GOP freshmen legislators who dubbed themselves the "New Federalists" after the Federalist Papers. Scarborough was elected Political Director of theincoming legislators. The New Federalists called for sweeping cuts in the U.S. government, including plans to "privatize, localize, consolidate, [or] eliminate"[6] the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy and Housing and Urban Development, but were largely unsuccessful in their goals. Gingrich tapped Scarborough to head a Republican task force on education, and Scarborough declared "Our goal is to get as much money, power and authority out of Washington and get as much money, power and authority into the classroom as possible."[2]

Scarborough sponsored a bill to force the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations after a four year transition[6] and voted to make the Corporation for Public Broadcasting "self-sufficient"[7] by eliminating federal funding. He also voted for the "Medicare Preservation act of 1995",[8] which cut the projected growth Medicare by $270 billion over ten years, and against the "Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996"[9] which raised the minimum wage to $5.15. Scarborough had a conservative voting record on economic, social, and foreign policy issues, but was seen as moderate on environmental issues and human rights causes (including closing the School of the Americas and Lori Berenson).[2]

[US Congressman Joe Scarborough] heard about Lori Berenson on an NPR broadcast. He went to Peru and spent a day at her second trial. He watched the prosecutors and the judges working together, heard the evidence and decided that she had done nothing that would have convicted her in a U.S. court. Even a repentant terrorist, who was to have been the strongest witness, said Berenson was not a member of MRTA and gave no help at all. Scarborough thought the court had to conclude she was not a terrorist leader.[10]

While in Congress, Scarborough received numerous awards, including: the "Friend of the Taxpayer Award" from Americans for Tax Reform; the "Guardian of Small Business Award" from the National Federation of Independent Business; the "Spirit of Enterprise Award" from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the "Taxpayer's Hero Award" from the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and the "Guardian of Seniors' Rights Award" from the 60 Plus Association.[11]

On July 20, 2001, one of Scarborough's aides died after allegedly hitting her head on a desk when she fainted while alone in Scarborough's Fort Walton Beach office.[12] According to Scarborough, soon after her death allegations "spread all over the Internet" that he had been involved,[13] although there was no officially accepted evidence of foul play. In 2003, he joked about the incident with Don Imus on Imus' radio program[14] and, in 2004, it was the subject of a public spat between Scarborough and filmmaker Michael Moore.[15] Moore accused Scarborough of wrongdoing, even though Scarborough has stated that he was in his Washington, DC, office at the time of his aide's death.

Committee memberships[edit]

  • 104th Congress[16]
    • Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
    • Committee on National Security
  • 105th Congress[17]
    • Committee on National Security
    • Committee on Government Reform and Oversight
    • Committee on Education and the Workforce
  • 106th Congress[18]
    • Committee on Armed Services
    • Committee on Government Reform
    • Committee on the Judiciary
  • 107th Congress[19]
    • Committee on Government Reform
    • Committee on the Judiciary

Post-congressional career[edit]

In late May 2001, Scarborough announced that he would resign from Congress on September 6 to spend more time with his children. In his announcement, Scarborough also speculated about possible future presidential appointments and legal and television work.[20] He officially resigned on September 5, 2001.[1] After leaving Congress, he joined the law firm of prominent Florida attorney Fred Levin. He practiced law with the firm Beggs & Lane,[21] the oldest firm in Florida. He was appointed to the President's Council on the 21st Century Workforce in 2002.[22]

Scarborough Country

In April 2003, he embarked upon a successful television career with the launch of Scarborough Country on MSNBC, a current affairs show.

Scarborough also published a book, Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day (2004) (ISBN 0-06-074984-9) in which he reflects on his experiences as a young Republican congressman during the Clinton years. Scarborough criticizes both political parties for irresponsible spending and giving in to special interests.

Scarborough briefly hosted a three-hour radio show in 2005. The show aired in a competitive time slot (10am–1pm US ET) and struggled to gain affiliates; those few that did carry the show usually carried it in the noon–3pm US ET slot or in late nights instead. After a few months, Scarborough left the show to focus his time on other priorities. (After over a year vacant, the slot was filled by Dennis Miller's radio show in 2007.) As of May 9, 2007, Scarborough became one of the rotating hosts auditioning for the slot vacated by Imus in the Morning on MSNBC, as host of Morning Joe. Morning Joe won the slot permanently in July 2007, thus ending Scarborough Country in the process.

In August 2005, Scarborough confirmed reports that he had been asked to consider a challenge to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris for the Republican nomination to challenge Senator Bill Nelson's re-election bid. However, he announced later that month that he was renewing his contract with NBC. He subsequently expressed his dissatisfaction with the Republican leadership, saying on MSNBC that he's "embarrassed ... to be a Republican ... because of the lack of leadership."[23]

In July 2006, former aides to Harris' 2006 Senate campaign claimed that Harris had called potential Scarborough supporters and raised the death of an aide in his home district office as a means to prevent his entry into the race.[24] Scarborough, who had never intended to enter the race, initially considered suing Harris, but decided to let the incident pass. He later told Nelson that drawing Harris as an opponent in the race made him "the luckiest man in Washington."

Other ventures[edit]

During his Congressional career, Scarborough led a rock-and-roll band called Regular Joe, which frequently performed at the Fish House restaurant owned by his friend Collier Merrill. The band performed at the 2000 Republican National Convention, where Scarborough greeted the crowd with poetry: "Unite, not divide, so once again we can look at the White House with pride."[25]

In November 1999, Scarborough founded a weekly tabloid newspaper, The Florida Sun. It merged with competing weekly The Independent in 2001, calling itself the Independent Florida Sun until 2004, when former Independent publisher Rick Outzen purchased control of the publication. It has since been published as the Independent News.


In 1986, Scarborough married Melanie Hinton. They had two children[26] and divorced in 1999. His younger child was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, and in a June 2005 interview, Scarborough expressed concerns about the possibility one of his sons may have suffered vaccine damage, perhaps attributable to the sharp increase during the 1980s in the amount of thimerosal injected into infants: "My son, born in 1991, has a slight form of autism called Asperger's. When I was practicing law and also when I was in Congress, parents would constantly come to me and they would bring me videotapes of their children, and they were all around the age of my son or younger. So, something happened in 1989."[27]

Scarborough married his current wife, Susan, in October 2001. They live in Pensacola with their daughter Kate and his two sons, Joey and Andrew.[28]

Scarborough supported his brother George's campaign to replace Holly Benson as the Florida State House Representative for District 3, but the Republican primary and subsequent special election in February 2007 were won by Gulf Breeze City Council member Clay Ford.

Preceded by:
Earl Hutto
U.S. Congressman, Florida's 1st District
Succeeded by:
Jeff Miller


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Scarborough, Charles Joseph". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2006-03-18.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Michael Barone, Richard E. Cohen, The Almanac of American Politics, National Journal Press, 2002, pages 374–76.
  3. liner notes "Dixon Mills" CD 1992 SRS records Inc.
  4. Bill Kaczor, "Abortion an Unmentionable Issue in District Hit by Anti-Abortion Violence", Associated Press, November 2, 1994; Laura Griffin, "Area lawyer hired in clinic killing", St. Petersburg Times, April 13, 1993.
  6. 6.0 6.1
  7. (pdf)
  10. Washington Post
  12. McLaughlin, Tom "Examiner: Klausutis' death was accidental", Northwest Florida Daily News, August 7, 2001
  13. Lisa Osburn, "Scarborough ready to get back home", Pensacola News Journal, September 6, 2001
  14. James Wolcott, "MSNBC's fox hunt: management and marketing strategies", Vanity Fair 518 (Oct 2003): 140(5)
  15. Judy Bachrach. "Moore's War", Vanity Fair (March 2005): 240; Scarborough Country, June 14, 2004 [1].
  16. Designating Majority Membership on Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 04, 1995)
  17. Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 07, 1997); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 09, 1997); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House (House of Representatives — January 21, 1997)
  18. Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — January 06, 1999); Election of Majority Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — March 11, 1999)
  19. Election of Members to Certain Standing Committees of the House — (House of Representatives — January 06, 2001)
  20. Lisa Osburn, "U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough Trading House for Home: Congressman ready to be a full-time dad", Pensacola News Journal, May 26, 2001.
  24. Story of 'Joe's dead intern' began Harris' slide, insiders say, (Miami Herald, July 14, 2006)
  25. "The Republicans: The News Media -- Political Surfing; Journalists Are Making Very Much Of a Little." New York Times, August 3, 2000.
  26. CNN 1998 Election Biography
  28. Scarborough Bio from

External links[edit]