Jon Kyl

This article is about the former Arizona Senator. For his father, a U.S. Representative from Iowa, see John Henry Kyl. For a U.S. Representative from Mississippi with a similar name, see John Kyle.
Jon Kyl
Senate Minority Whip
In office
December 19, 2007  January 3, 2013
Leader Mitch McConnell
Preceded by Trent Lott
Succeeded by John Cornyn
United States Senator
from Arizona
In office
January 3, 1995  January 3, 2013
Preceded by Dennis DeConcini
Succeeded by Jeff Flake
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1987  January 3, 1995
Preceded by Eldon Rudd
Succeeded by John Shadegg
Personal details
Born Jon Llewellyn Kyl
(1942-04-25) April 25, 1942
Oakland, Nebraska, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Caryll Collins
Children Kristine
Alma mater University of Arizona (BA, LLB)

Jon Llewellyn Kyl (/ˈkl/; born April 25, 1942)[1] is a former United States Senator from Arizona, where he served as Senate Minority Whip, the second-highest position in the Republican Senate leadership. He currently works in the lobbying group at the law firm Covington & Burling.[2]

The son of U.S. Representative John Henry Kyl, he was born and raised in Nebraska and lived for some time in Iowa. He received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Arizona. He worked in Phoenix, Arizona as a lawyer and lobbyist before winning election to the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 1987 to 1995. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and continued to be re-elected by large margins until his retirement.

In 2006, he was recognized by Time magazine as one of as one of America's Ten Best Senators.[3] Kyl was ranked by National Journal in 2007 as the fourth-most conservative U.S. Senator.[4] He has been a fixture of Republican policy leadership posts, chairing the Republican Policy Committee (2003–2007) and the Republican Conference (2007). In December 2007 he became Senate Minority Whip. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010, for his persuasive role in the Senate.[5]

In February 2011, Kyl announced that he would not seek re-election to the Senate in 2012 and would retire at the end of his third term,[6] which concluded on January 3, 2013. He expressly ruled out running for further office except, if offered, the Vice Presidency.[7]

Early life, education and career

Kyl was born in Oakland, Nebraska, the son of Arlene Pearl (née Griffith) and John Henry Kyl,[8] a teacher at Nebraska State Teachers College. His father served as a Congressman from Iowa after moving his family to Bloomfield, Iowa. After graduating from high school in 1960, Kyl attended the University of Arizona where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1964, graduating with honors. Kyl is a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. He then earned a law degree in 1966 at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law, and served as editor-in-chief of the Arizona Law Review. Before entering politics, he was a lawyer and lobbyist with Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix, Arizona.[9] He also worked as an attorney at Mountain States Legal Foundation in Denver, Colorado, prior to running for office.[10]

Kyl is married to Caryll Collins, with whom he has had two children. They also have four grandchildren.

U.S House of Representatives

Kyl served in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. He was first elected in 1986 against Democrat Philip R. Davis, 65% to 35%. He was reelected in 1988 against Gary Sprunk of the Libertarian party, 87% to 13%;[11] in 1990 against Democrat Mark Ivey, Jr., 61% to 39%;[12] and in 1992 against Democrat Walter R. Mybeck, II, 59% to 27%.[13]

U.S. Senate

Committee assignments


Kyl has been elected by his fellow Senate Republicans to a succession of leadership posts: Policy Committee chairman (2003–2007), Conference chairman (2007), and most recently (in December 2007), Senate Minority Whip.[14] Kyl's ascension to Minority Whip makes him the first Arizonan to hold such an influential Senate leadership post since Democrat Ernest W. McFarland served as Senate Majority Leader from 1951 to 1953. Kyl is the only Arizona Republican to hold such a powerful leadership position.

Political positions

Jon Kyl at an event in Phoenix in January 2016.

Kyl is considered to be a conservative,[15] and was ranked by National Journal as the fourth-most conservative United States Senator in their March 2007 conservative/liberal rankings.[4] In addition, in April 2006, Kyl was selected by Time Magazine as one of "America's 10 Best Senators"; the magazine cited his successful behind-the-scene efforts as head of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.[16]

Kyl is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[17]

Crime victims' rights

Kyl was one of the original sponsors, along with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, of an effort to amend the United States Constitution to protect crime victims' rights in the criminal justice system. When in 2004 it appeared that the constitutional amendment would not receive the requisite 2/3 support to pass the Senate, Kyl and Feinstein authored the Crime Victims' Rights Act, which listed a victims' bill of rights and provided mandamus relief in appellate court for any victim denied those rights.[18] The act also offered sanctions against government officials who wantonly and willfully refused to comply with the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

Arms control

In November 2010, Kyl announced that he would oppose the New START arms control treaty's ratification in the lame duck session.[19][20] He was unsuccessful in this regard, as the treaty passed easily.

Internet gambling

In September 2006, working with then-Congressman Jim Leach, Jon Kyl was a major Senate supporter of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act was passed at midnight the day Congress adjourned before the 2006 elections. Prior to it being added to the bill, the gambling provisions had not been debated by any Congressional committee, although the general issue had been debated in multiple times in the past.[21] When publication of the associated regulations was delayed until June 2010, Kyl responded by denying unanimous consent to confirm the appointment of 6 nominees to the US Treasury Department, none of whom specialized on gambling issues.[22]


Kyl voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[23] and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[24]


In February 2006, Kyl joined Senator Lindsey Graham in an amicus brief in the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case. The brief presented to the Supreme Court of the United States an "extensive colloquy" added to the Congressional Record. It was not, however, included in the December 21st debate as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 would strip the Court of jurisdiction to hear "pending cases, including this case" brought by the Guantanamo detainees.[25]

In the spring of 2009, Kyl invited Geert Wilders to show his film Fitna to the United States Congress, which led to American Muslim protests.[26]

In 2011, Kyl said that the GOP had abandoned opposition to defense cuts.[27]

In 2012, Kyl voted against ratification of the UN Treaty Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[28]


Planned Parenthood

On April 8, 2011, Kyl spoke on the Senate floor and claimed that performing abortions is "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." Planned Parenthood responded that 90 percent of its services are to provide contraception, STD and cancer testing and treatment, and only 3 percent are abortion-related. A spokesperson for Kyl later claimed the senator’s remark "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions." Politifact noted that Planned Parenthood's numbers (from their most recent Annual Report, year ending June 30, 2009[29]) are the result of self-reporting and that there is no national audit on such claims, but stated their belief that Kyl "vastly overstated" the number.[30] A political science professor writing at National Review Online suggested that perhaps Kyl's comments were based on the pregnancy-related services provided to pregnant women, citing Planned Parenthood's 2009 annual report figures and claiming that 98% of those services were for abortion.[31] The phrase "not intended to be a factual statement" was mocked by political comedians such as Stephen Colbert, who joked, "You can’t call him out for being wrong when he never intended to be right."[32][33][34]

Political campaigns

Kyl was first elected to the Senate in 1994, defeating Samuel G. Coppersmith (D), then a member of the House of Representatives, 54% to 40%. Libertarian Party candidate Scott Grainger got 6% of the votes.

Kyl was reelected in 2000 without major-party opposition, with 79% of the vote. Independent William Toel got 8%; Green Party candidate Vance Hansen also got 8%; and Barry Hess of the Libertarian Party got 5%.

On November 7, 2006, Kyl defeated real estate developer and former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Jim Pederson to win his third term in the Senate.[35] Kyl won with 53% of the vote; Pederson received 44%; and Libertarian Party candidate Richard Mack received 3%. The race was one of the most expensive in Arizona history, with Kyl raising more than $15 million and Pederson raising just shy of that amount.[36]

A major issue in the campaign was illegal immigration. While in the Senate, Kyl cosponsored legislation that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country. Once there, they could apply for permanent residence or be guest workers.[37] Since fellow Arizona Senator John McCain opposed this legislation, Pederson tried to use the issue as a way of allying with McCain and dividing the Republicans in Arizona.[38] Controversy also arose when each candidate accused the other of supporting the amnesty provisions in a 1986 immigration bill, although both candidates deny ever supporting those provisions.[39]

Kyl appeared in the U.S. national news near the end of the campaign as an example of a case where some bloggers were attempting to influence search engine results for searches on Kyl's name, using Google bombs. If successful, Google searches would have produced high among the returns a link to a Phoenix New Times article suggesting Kyl's "kowtowing to the Bush administration and the radical right" to "the detriment of Arizonans".[40]


  1. Jon Kyl bio at
  2. Ho, Catherine (March 5, 2013). "Former Sen. Jon Kyl joins lobby shop at Covington". The Washington Post.
  4. 1 2 "Political Arithmetik: National Journal 2006 Liberal/Conservative Scores".
  5. McConnell, Mitch (April 29, 2010). "The 2010 Time 100". Time. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  6. Catanese, David; Epstein, Jennifer (February 10, 2011). "Sen. Jon Kyl announces his retirement from Senate". Politico. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  7. Kyl openly courts 2012 vice presidential nomination – The Hill's Blog Briefing Room
  8. Senator Jon Kyl at
  9. Darrin Hostetler (August 11, 1994). "Bland Ambition: He's Running for the U.S. Senate as an Outsider, a Boring Straight Arrow with the Common Touch". Phoenix New Times.
  11. Dendy, Dallas L., Jr.; Anderson, Donald K. (April 20, 1989). Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 8, 1988 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  12. Dendy, Dallas L., Jr.; Anderson, Donald K. (April 29, 1991). Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1990 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  13. Dendy, Dallas L., Jr.; Anderson, Donald K. (May 31, 1993). Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 3, 1992 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  14. Bart Jansen; Alan K. Ota (December 6, 2007). "Kyl, Alexander Move Up in Senate GOP Leadership". CQ Politics.
  15. Robert Nelson (April 13, 2006). "Stealth Zealot". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
  16. Burnett, David (April 14, 2006). "Jon Kyl: The Operator". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
  17. "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  18. 18 U.S.C. § 3771 (West 2008).
  19. Weber, Christopher (November 16, 2010). "Sen. John Kyl says Hell Block Vote on Arms Treaty with Russia". Politics Daily. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  20. Baker, Peter (November 16, 2010). "Senate Leader Deals Blow to President on Arms Treaty". The Caucus. New York Times.
  21. Nelson Rose (2006). "The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 Analyzed". Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  22. "Kyl Blocking Treasury Nominees Because He Doesn't Like Internet Gambling". Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  23. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  24. "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  25. Bazelon, Emily (March 27, 2006). "Invisible Men: Did Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl mislead the Supreme Court?". Slate Magazine.
  26. O'Connor, Anahad (26 February 2009). "Mr. Wilders Goes to Washington". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2009.
  27. Hewitt. Hugh. "Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl On The Choices On The Debt Ceiling Table." Amac, 25 July 2011.
  28. Steinhauer, Jennifer (December 4, 2012). "Dole Appears, but G.O.P. Rejects a Disabilities Treaty". New York Times.
  29. Annual Report 2008-2009, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  30. Jon Kyl says abortion services are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does”, at St. Petersburg Times, 8 April 2011
  31. In Senator Kyl’s Defense, Michael J. New, National Review, 13 April 2011
  32. Colbert keeps Twitter heat on Kyl, Jennifer Epstein & Karin Tanabe, Politico CLICK, 13 April 2011
  33. Cherette, Matt (2011-04-12). "Watch Stephen Colbert's Defense of Planned Parenthood". Gawker. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  34. Cherette, Matt (2011-04-13). "Stephen Colbert Gives Jon Kyl a Taste of His Own Medicine". Gawker. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  35. Josh Brodesky (November 8, 2006). "Kyl clinches his third term in tough race with Pederson". Arizona Daily Star.
  36. "Congressional Elections: Arizona Senate Race: 2006 Cycle". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  37. "GOP Senators Look for Compromise on Immigration Reform". Fox News. April 4, 2006.
  38. Josh Brodesky (September 25, 2006). "For both sides, McCain becomes all-purpose asset". Arizona Daily Star.
  39. "Pederson, Kyl trade barbs about amnesty". Arizona Republic.
  40. Zweller, Tom, Jr. (2006-10-26). "A New Campaign Tactic: Manipulating Google Data". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-23.

External links

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Jon Kyl
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Eldon Rudd
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arizona's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Shadegg
Party political offices
Preceded by
Keith DeGreen
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arizona
(Class 1)

1994, 2000, 2006
Succeeded by
Jeff Flake
Preceded by
Larry Craig
Chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee
Succeeded by
Kay Hutchison
Preceded by
Rick Santorum
Chair of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Lamar Alexander
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Senate Republican Whip
Succeeded by
John Cornyn
United States Senate
Preceded by
Dennis DeConcini
United States Senator (Class 1) from Arizona
Served alongside: John McCain
Succeeded by
Jeff Flake
Preceded by
Trent Lott
Senate Minority Whip
Succeeded by
John Cornyn
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