William Todd Tiahrt (// TEE-hart; born June 15, 1951) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Kansas’s 4th congressional district from 1995 to 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district encompasses 11 counties in the south central region of the state, including the city of Wichita. He was succeeded by Republican Mike Pompeo.
Tiahrt ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback. By that time, he had earned the highly coveted A+ rating of the National Rifle Association (NRA) for a fourth time. He lost to fellow Republican U.S. Representative Jerry Moran of Hays, Kansas, 50%–45%. After the primary election, Tiahrt endorsed Moran for the general election.
Tiahrt twice sought to regain his house seat. In 2014 he ran against Mike Pompeo in the Republican primary but was defeated. Then, in 2017, after Pompeo vacated the seat to become President Donald Trump’s CIA director, Tiahrt sought the Republican nomination for the special election to fill it, but came in 3rd, losing to Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes.
Early life, education and career
Tiahrt was born in Vermillion, South Dakota, the son of Marcine (née Steele) and Wilbur E. Tiahrt. He attended and earned a bachelor’s degree from Evangel College and received a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. He worked for Boeing, where he worked on numerous government contracts, from 1981 until his election to Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Tiahrt was elected to the Kansas State Senate in 1992. After only one term, he won the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District and was elected in an upset over 18-year Democratic incumbent Dan Glickman.
One factor in the win was the 1990s reapportionment, in which Hutchinson and surrounding Reno County were shifted to the “Big 1st” District. Hutchinson was replaced with more reliably Republican Montgomery County. After a tough reelection bid in 1996, Tiahrt was reelected to the U.S. House six more times with little difficulty, before his unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid in 2010.
- Committee on Appropriations
Leadership roles and Caucus memberships
- Dean of Kansas’ delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives
- Founder and chairman of the House Economic Competitiveness Caucus
Tiahrt is the author of the Tiahrt Amendment which prohibits the National Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation.
This precludes gun trace data from being used in academic research of gun use in crime. Additionally, the law blocks any data legally released from being admissible in civil lawsuits against gun sellers or manufacturers. Some groups, including the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, believe that having further access to the ATF database would help municipal police departments track down sellers of illegal guns and curb crime. These groups are trying to undo the Tiahrt Amendment.
Numerous police organizations oppose the Tiahrt Amendment, such as the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). Conversely, the Tiahrt Amendment is supported by the National Rifle Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police (although it allows municipal police departments only limited access to ATF trace data in any criminal investigation). The NRA has claimed that undoing the Tiahrt Amendment would lead to a rash of lawsuits against gun dealers.
In their 2010 letter of appreciation on behalf of the NRA Political Victory Fund and the 50,000 NRA members in Kansas, Tiart was honored with a 4th consecutive congressional race A+ NRA rating for his contributions to the pro-gun efforts.
Tiart had earned the highest rating, by “voting for every pro-gun bill.” This included “critical pro-gun reforms” like the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA); “legislation to expand Right-to-Carry to national parks and wildlife refuges”, the Tiahrt Amendment to reform the ATF, and “legislation to restore” Second Amendment rights to Washington, DC. The A+ ranking took into consideration the letter he submitted to court briefs that he signed as a “critical friend of the court briefs” in the 2008 landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, and that Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban and requirement that lawfully-owned rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” violated this guarantee. and the 2010 SC case McDonald v. Chicago which found that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states, clearing up any uncertainty left in the wake of the Heller case.
Tiahrt-Bilbray Bill Fairness for American Students Act
A bill was introduced by Tiahrt and Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) called the Fairness for American Students Act that would close a loophole in current law that several states have used to provide lower-cost college tuition to illegal immigrants compared to tuition rates U.S. citizens from neighboring states have to pay. Kansas and Nebraska are two of the states that currently offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Tiahrt has opposed measures to sanction government-funded abortions. In July 2009, he drew criticism from the Kansas Democratic Party when he suggested that President Barack Obama‘s mother might have aborted him if she had had access to government-paid abortion services. Tiahrt posited that tax funding of abortion would “encourage women who are single parents, living below the poverty level, to have the opportunity for a free abortion. If you take that scenario and apply it to many of the great minds we have today, who would we have been deprived of? Our president grew up in those similar circumstances. If that financial incentive was in place, is it possible that his mother may have taken advantage of it?”
Tiahrt applied the same suggestion to Clarence Thomas, who was born in poverty and reared mainly by his grandfather. “Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court justice, if those circumstances were in place, is it possible that we would be denied his great mind?” Tiahrt said.
Tiahrt was cited as responsible for preventing the City of Washington D.C., from spending its own disease prevention funds for HIV and Hepatitis C-fighting needle exchange programs from 1998 through 2007.
Comments on the TSA
On November 23, 2010, Tiahrt spoke in Wichita against recent TSA security measures and how they affect citizens’ privacy.
Tiahrt and his wife Vicki had three children, Jessica, John and Luke. On July 24, 2004, the Tiahrts’ youngest child, sixteen year-old Luke, died of an apparent suicide by gunshot at the family home in Virginia.
The family established the Luke Tiahrt Memorial Fund to provide grants to organizations that benefits teenagers.
- 2017 Republican Convention for Kansas 4th District
- Ron Estes, 66 votes, 2nd Ballot
- Alan Cobb, 43 votes
- Todd Tiahrt, 17 votes
- 2014 Republican primary race for Kansas 4th District
- Mike Pompeo (inc), 42,877 votes, 63%
- Todd Tiahrt, 25,501 votes, 37%
- 2010 Republican primary race for U.S. Senator – Kansas
- Jerry Moran, 160,620 votes, 50%
- Todd Tiahrt, 144,221 votes, 45%
- 2008 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 64%
- Donald Betts (D), 32%
- 2006 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 64%
- Garth McGinn (D), 34%
- 2004 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 66%
- Michael Kinard (D), 31%
- 2002 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 61%
- Carlos Nolla (D), 37%
- 2000 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 54%
- Carlos Nolla (D), 42%
- Steven Rosile (L), 4%
- 1998 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R) (inc.) 58%
- Jim Lawing (D) 39%
- Craig Newland (T) 3%
- 1996 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R), (inc.) 50%
- Randy Rathbun (D), 47%
- 1994 race for Kansas 4th District
- Todd Tiahrt (R) 53%
- Dan Glickman (D), (inc.) 47%
- Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Legalstorm.com
- Jeffrey Young (2009-01-31). “Kansan Tiahrt makes Senate bid official”. The Hill. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- Jean, Pamela (August 4, 2010). “2010: Kansas Primary Election Results”. Kansas Free Press.
- Hegeman, Roxana (February 9, 2017). “Kansas Republicans pick Estes as nominee for US House seat”. St. Louis Dispatch. Retrieved February 11, 2017.[permanent dead link]
- “Profile”. Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
- Grimaldi, James V.; Horwitz, Sari (October 24, 2010). “Industry pressure hides gun traces, protects dealers from public scrutiny”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-02-03.
- Knight, Healther (June 19, 2007) “Mayors Fight Gun Measure”, San Francisco Chronicle; accessed December 12, 2016.
- “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”. Thedailyshow.com. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- “Rating letter”. Kansas State Rifle Association. July 21, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Mascia, Jennifer (April 7, 2016). “Lawsuits Against Gun Sellers Almost Never Make it to Trial. This One Will”. The Trace. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
The Missouri Supreme Court will allow a woman to sue a gun dealer despite PLCAA, a law that shields manufacturers and retailers from most liability suits.
- Barnes, Robert (2009-10-01). “Justices to Decide if State Gun Laws Violate Rights”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
the 5 to 4 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond the federal government and federal enclaves such as Washington.
- Mears, Bill (June 28, 2010). “Court rules for gun rights, strikes down Chicago handgun ban”. CNN. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- Stein, Sam (16 August 2009). “GOP Rep Tiahrt Asks Whether Obama’s Mother Would Have Had An Abortion (VIDEO)” – via Huff Post.
- Needle-Exchange Victory, Washington Post, July 2, 2007; retrieved February 7, 2017.
- Tiahrts comments on the TSA, Votesmart.org; accessed December 12, 2016.
- “Todd Tiahrt’s Voting Records – The Voter’s Self Defense System”. Vote Smart. Retrieved 2017-02-25.
- “Authorities speculate that 16-year-old committed suicide”. Topeka Capital-Journal. July 25, 2004. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- “Tiahrt’s son laid to rest”. Lawrence Journal-World. July 29, 2004. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- “Tiahrt Family Releases Statement After Son’s Suicide”. 13 WIBW. July 31, 2004. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
- Todd Tiahrt LLC official website
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Collected news and investigations at The Center for Public Integrity
- Profile at SourceWatch
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kansas’s 4th congressional district
|104th||Senate: B. Dole (until Jun. 1996) • N. Kassenbaum • S. Frahm (Jun.-Nov. 1996) • S. Brownback (from Nov. 1996)||House: P. Roberts • J. Meyers • S. Brownback (until Nov. 1996) • T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun (from Nov. 1996)|
|105th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun • J. Moran • V. Snowbarger|
|106th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun • J. Moran • D. Moore|
|107th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun • J. Moran • D. Moore|
|108th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun • J. Moran • D. Moore|
|109th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Ryun • J. Moran • D. Moore|
|110th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Moran • D. Moore • N. Boyda|
|111th||Senate: S. Brownback • P. Roberts||House: T. Tiahrt • J. Moran • D. Moore • L. Jenkins|