Dan Donovan (politician)

Dan Donovan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th district
Assumed office
May 5, 2015
Preceded by Michael Grimm
District Attorney of Richmond County
In office
January 1, 2004  May 12, 2015[1]
Preceded by William L. Murphy
Succeeded by Michael McMahon
Deputy Borough President of Staten Island
In office
January 1, 2002  December 31, 2003
Preceded by James Molinaro
Succeeded by Edward Burke
Personal details
Born Daniel Michael Donovan, Jr.
(1956-11-06) November 6, 1956
Staten Island, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Residence Great Kills, Staten Island
Alma mater St. John's University (B.S.)
Fordham University (J.D.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic

Daniel Michael "Dan" Donovan, Jr. (born November 6, 1956) is an attorney and elected official from New York City. He is currently the United States Representative for New York's 11th congressional district, winning the seat in May 2015 special election against Brooklyn Councilman Vinnie Gentile after his predecessor, Rep. Michael Grimm, pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges.[2][3][4][5] He found himself in the national limelight in 2014 after failing to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo who put Eric Garner in a chokehold which some believed led to Garner's death.[6] The case is now under investigation by the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice.[7]

Early life

Dan Donovan was born into a working-class Roman Catholic family in Staten Island, New York in 1956. His Irish-American father, Daniel M. Donovan, Sr., was a longshoreman and lifelong Democrat, his Polish-American mother, Katherine Bolewicz Donovan, was a garment worker.[8][9] He was raised in the Tompkinsville section of the borough.[10] He attended Monsignor Farrell High School, an all-boys Catholic school, graduating in 1974.[11] He went to study Criminal Justice at St. John's University.[10] After graduating from there he attended Fordham University School of Law, earning his juris doctor in 1988.[10]

Early career

In 1989 Dan Donovan became an Assistant District Attorney in the office of Robert M. Morgenthau.[12] He served in with the office of the New York County District Attorney under Mr. Morgenthau until 1996. Later that year Donovan became Chief of Staff to then Staten Island Borough President Guy V. Molinari.[13] He remained in that position until 2002 when he was sworn in as Deputy Borough President of Staten Island; he had been appointed by his immediate predecessor and the then new Borough President James Molinaro.[13]

Richmond County District Attorney

In 2003, twenty-year incumbent Democrat, William L. Murphy decided not to seek re-election. Dan Donovan announced his intention to run to succeed him. In the election he faced Chief Assistant District Attorney David Lehr and won with over 53% of the vote.[14] One of the key parts of his platform was to start the county's first witness protection program, and his office led the city's prosecutors with the highest felony conviction rate in many of the years since he took office.[15] He was re-elected in 2007 with over 68% of the vote, defeating local Democratic attorney Michael Ryan.[16] This was in spite of a last minute endorsement for his rival by longtime friend and mentor Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro; Molinaro was angered that Donovan had referred his grandson's case to a special prosecutor.[17] Donovan's tenure as DA has seen several high-profile cases, including the second conviction of Andre Rand, long suspected in a string of kidnappings on Staten Island.[18] In 2010, famed rapper Method Man pleaded guilty to attempted tax evasion and was forced to pay about $106,000 in restitution and penalties.[19]

Eric Garner case

Donovan became the focus of a national controversy surrounding the death of Eric Garner in 2014 when he failed to prosecute Garner's killer before a Grand Jury.[20][21][22][23] Dan Donovan became a figure in the national controversy surrounding the death of Eric Garner the Richmond County Grand Jury decided not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose chokehold medical examiner's considered instrumental in Garner's death, on any charges. The medical examiner's office ruled Eric Garner's death a homicide. After considering the medical examiner's findings that Eric Garner was killed by "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police"[24] Donovan's office decided that "it is appropriate to present evidence regarding circumstances of his death to a Richmond County Grand Jury."[25] Donovan asked the Grand Jury to consider whether there was "probable cause" for manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, but did not bring forward reckless endangerment charges.[26] After two months, that Grand Jury brought forward no indictment. Dan Donovan's office fought against releasing the trial proceedings citing New York confidentiality laws despite being pressured by activists and fellow lawmakers to release the records.[27]

2010 New York Attorney General campaign

On May 17, 2010, Donovan, a registered Republican, announced his candidacy for the New York attorney general election, 2010, becoming the front runner for his party's nomination.[28] In spite of this Bob Antonacci, Onondaga County Comptroller, announced his intention run for Attorney General.[29] Antonacci stepped aside and endorsed Donovan after earning forty percent of the vote at the 2010 Republican State Convention.[30] With a sixty percent win of the delegates at the convention and no primary opponent, Donovan became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party.[31] A week prior he received the endorsement of the Conservative Party of New York.[32] He was defeated on November 2 by the Democratic nominee Eric Schneiderman.

U.S. House of Representatives

2015 special election

Donovan was selected as the Republican candidate for New York's 11th congressional district after the resignation of Michael Grimm. He defeated the Democrat, Vincent J. Gentile, and the Green Party candidate, James Lane, in the May 2015 special election.[5]


Donovan was elected May 5, 2015 and sworn into office on May 12, 2015.[33]


Donovan has sponsored two bills aimed at improving protection against terrorism in the United States. He introduced a bill called the Terrorist Asset Seizure Reform Act (TASR). TASR would allow the government to seize assets belonging to terrorists and spend that money on grants to help cities that are considered "high-risk" targets to defend against attacks. If TASR became law, banks would be required to freeze assets of an individual once that person is placed on the U.S. terrorist watchlist. The government would be able to seize interest that accrued from terrorist bank accounts. The government would redirect all money collected to the homeland security grant program called the Urban Areas Security Initiative. He also introduced the Cyber Preparedness Act, which aims to better coordinate communication between authorities at various levels of government.[34]

Committee assignments

2016 Re-election campaign

Donovan faces Democrat Richard Reichard in his first re-election bid.[35]


  1. "Chief ADA Daniel L. Master, Jr. Sworn In As Acting District Attorney" (PDF). Office of the District Attorney of Richmond County. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  2. Friedman, Dan (January 5, 2015). Michael Grimm officially resigns in disgrace. New York Daily News. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  3. Friedman, Dan (April 4, 2015). Democrats all but concede Rep. Michael Grimm's Congress seat to Republican Dan Donovan. New York Daily News. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  4. Jorgensen, Jillian (April 23, 2015). Daniel Donovan Raises More Than $600,000 for Congressional Election. New York Observer. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  5. 1 2 Shapiro, Rachel (May 5, 2015). Staten Island special election 2015: Dan Donovan wins Congress seat. Staten Island Advance. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  6. "No Indictment of NYPD Cop in Garner Chokehold Death". Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  7. "Justice Dept. Shakes Up Inquiry Into Eric Garner Chokehold Case". The New York Times. October 25, 2016. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  8. Gray, Geoffrey (September 19, 2010). "110 Minutes With Republican Attorney General Candidate Dan Donovan - New York Magazine". Nymag.com. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  9. Archived December 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. 1 2 3 https://web.archive.org/web/20100710132803/http://www.dandonovan.org/meet_dan.php. Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. "Richmond County District Attorneys Office". Rcda.nyc.gov. January 1, 2004. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  12. 1 2
  13. "Board of Elections in the City of New York". Vote.nyc.ny.us. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  14. Advance File Photo (May 30, 2010). "Daniel Donovan swimming upstream in bid for state office". SILive.com. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  15. "Staten Island DA Donovan survives challenge". Nydailynews.com. November 7, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  16. "S.I. Borough President Backs Ex-Aide's Rival". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  17. https://web.archive.org/web/20100703024555/http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2010/06/dan-donovan-versus-method-man.html. Archived from the original on July 3, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. "Eric Garner Prosecutor Accused Of 'Doubling Down On Race-Baiting' In Congressional Campaign". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  19. "Meet Dan Donovan, the Prosecutor Who Let Eric Garner's Killer Walk". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  20. "Daniel Donovan Gets Wary Welcome to Congress After Eric Garner Case". The New York Times. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  21. "Dan Donovan, prosecutor in Eric Garner death case, wins House seat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  22. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/opinion/eric-garner-daniel-pantaleo-and-lethal-police-tactics.html
  23. "Federal grand jury hears evidence in Eric Garner chokehold case". Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  24. "DA didn't ask for reckless endangerment in Eric Garner case". Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  25. "Petition pressure on Dan Donovan to release Garner records". Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  26. Wrobleski, Tom (May 17, 2010). Staten Island D.A. Daniel Donovan announces A.G. run, vows to fight corruption in Albany. Staten Island Advance. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  27. Mariani, Tom (May 17, 2010). Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan to declare attorney general candidacy in Syracuse. The Post-Standard. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  28. Knauss, Tim (June 2, 2010). Staten Island DA Daniel Donovan to declare attorney general candidacy in Syracuse. The Post-Standard. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  29. https://web.archive.org/web/20100809142333/http://www.nygop.org/page/new-york-state-republicans-nominate-dan-donovan-as-their-candidate-for-attorney-general. Archived from the original on August 9, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2010. Missing or empty |title= (help). Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  30. Hornak, Robert (May 31, 2010). State Conservative Party Meets: Endorse Townsend, DioGuardi, Donovan, Wilson and (Surprise!) Rick Lazio Archived December 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  31. Katinas, Paula (May 11, 2015). "Donovan To Be Sworn Into Office May 12". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  32. "Donovan calls for smarter rules on cyberdefense, seizing terrorist funds - Homeland Preparedness News". 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  33. "Democrat Richard Reichard to challenge Rep. Dan Donovan". SILive.com. Retrieved 2016-10-26.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James Molinaro
Deputy Borough President of Staten Island
Succeeded by
Edward Burke
Legal offices
Preceded by
William L. Murphy
District Attorney of Richmond County, New York
2004 – May 12, 2015
Succeeded by
Daniel L. Master, Jr.
as Acting
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Michael Grimm
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district

May 5, 2015  present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ryan Zinke
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Trent Kelly
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jeanine Pirro
Republican Nominee for New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
John P. Cahill

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