|1st United States Secretary of Homeland Security|
January 24, 2003 – February 1, 2005
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Michael Chertoff|
|United States Homeland Security Advisor|
October 5, 2001 – January 24, 2003
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||John Gordon|
|43rd Governor of Pennsylvania|
January 17, 1995 – October 5, 2001
|Preceded by||Robert Casey|
|Succeeded by||Mark Schweiker|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Pennsylvania's 21st district
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Donald Bailey|
|Succeeded by||Phil English|
Thomas Joseph Ridge|
August 26, 1945
Munhall, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Dickinson School of Law
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Unit||23rd Infantry Division|
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 the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security from 2001 to 2003, and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. Prior to this, Ridge was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995 and the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Ridge was born in Munhall, Pennsylvania and raised in veterans' public housing in Erie, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Harvard University with honors, Ridge served in the U.S. Army 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 for his service. He then returned to Pennsylvania and completed his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at the Dickinson School of Law, graduating in 1972, and entered private practice.
As Assistant District Attorney in Erie, Ridge ran for Congress in his district, where he served six terms. He then ran for Governor in 1994, despite being little-known outside of northwest Pennsylvania. He won the election, and was reelected in 1998 with the most votes for a Republican governor in Pennsylvania (where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 500,000) in more than half a century. As Governor of Pennsylvania, Ridge is credited for statewide advances in economic development, education, health care and the environment.
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush named Ridge the first Director of the newly created Office of Homeland Security. In January 2003, the Office of Homeland Security became an official Cabinet-level Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and Ridge became the first Secretary of Homeland Security. He served in these roles for Bush's first term as President, then retired and returned to the private sector.
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 on the short list of potential running mates.
Early life and education
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.
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.
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 Peter J. Jannetta to be the State Secretary of Health. Jannetta 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. Another health department related action by Ridge has generated controversy since he left office. He stopped the annual inspections of abortion clinics, which may have contributed to Kermit Gosnell being able to run a sub-standard clinic that the grand jury insisted met the definition of a racketeering operation.
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.
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.
However, Bush selected the man who was in charge of leading his search for the vice presidential nominee, former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, to be his running mate.
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 Secretary
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.
In January 2004, Ridge was named among others in a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar who said he was tortured in Syria after being deported by American authorities.
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.
Work in the private sector
Ridge served on a state-appointed incident review panel which investigated the Virginia Tech massacre of April 2007.
Ridge Policy Group
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.
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.
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 [to] ... 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."
In November 2006, Tom Ridge was announced as a Senior Advisor for Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.
The Hershey Company
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.
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.
2008 Presidential election
Tom Ridge served as a senior aide to Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain of Arizona, and was considered by some as a possible running mate for McCain.
Possible 2010 Senate candidacy
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.
2012 Presidential election
Supreme Court brief
Support for the People's Mujahedin of Iran
Ridge spoke at a conference in support of the removal of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK, also PMOI, MKO) from the United States State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The group was listed on the State Department list from 1997 until September 2012. They were placed on the list for killing six Americans in Iran during the 1970s and attempting to attack the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992. Ridge, along with other former government officials and politicians Ed Rendell, R. James Woolsey, Porter Goss, Louis Freeh, Michael Mukasey, James L. Jones, Rudy Giuliani, and Howard Dean, were criticized for their involvement with the group. Some were subpoenaed during an inquiry about who was paying the prominent individuals' speaking fees. Ridge and others wrote an article for the conservative publication National Review stating their position that the group should not be classified as a terrorist organization, raising the point that, at the time, only the United States and Iran still listed it as a terrorist group.
2016 Presidential election
In 2016, Ridge endorsed Jeb Bush and subsequently John Kasich after Bush's withdrawal from the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. Ridge stated he would not endorse Donald Trump, following Trump's becoming presumptive nominee, or Hillary Clinton in the general election.
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 gives 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.
- Presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- Erie International Airport was co-named Tom Ridge Field in honor of Ridge.
- The Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania is named after the former governor. Ridge was instrumental in securing funds for the center.
- His picture hangs in the moot court room at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
- Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pennsylvania runs the $100,000 Tom Ridge Stakes every meet.
- Mercyhurst University named its Tom Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Science after the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
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|
- "Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge Appointed to Bush Cabinet". Online NewsHour. 2001-09-20. Retrieved 2005-05-22.
- "McCain Campaigns with Ridge as VP Speculation Intensifies". The Trail. The Washington Post. 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- Wedd, Justin (2008-08-20). "Veep predictions". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 2008-08-21.
- A FEW FAMOUS CARPATHO-RUSSIANS
- Palattella, Ed; Scott Wescott (2003-01-21). "Growing Up: Ridge's journey begins". Erie Times-News. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- History of the 23rd Infantry Division | Americal. Militaryvetshop.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- Levy v Jannetta, CCP Allegheny County, GD 81-7689; appeal -J. A370017/92 Levy v Jannetta et al., No. 00150 Pittsburgh, 1992. Settled, 1995."
- "Grand Jury: Under Pro-Abort GOP Governor, Pennsylvania Stopped Annual Inspections of Abortion Clinics", CNS News, April 16, 2013
- "Tom Ridge on the Issues". On the Issues. 2000. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "Execution Warrants Issued by Governor (1985 to Present)" (PDF). Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "Sy Snyder's Politician of the Year 2001". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2001. Archived from the original on 2002-08-03.
- "Keystone State Yearbook Committee". PoliticsPA. The Publius Group. 2001. Archived from the original on 2002-08-03.
- Starr, Alexandra (July–August 1999). "Running Mates: Who will be on the ticket in 2000?". Washington Monthly. 31 (7). Retrieved 2005-09-22.
- BBC profile of Tom Ridge 9 November 2004 Security Chief Ridge: 'The Task is Enormous', NPR.org, October 8, 2001.
- Newsmaker: Tom Ridge, Online NewsHour, May 9, 2002
- Person of the Week: Tom Ridge. Now for the hard part: After a week in which the Senate gave him a cabinet-level position, the Homeland Security chief is preparing to take on the toughest job in Washington, Time.com, November 22, 2002
- Ridge's journey to the national stage, The Rising Son; updated January 21, 2003. Locally produced biography of Tom Ridge
- Herb Barness '48 is a major player in the Republican party at the state and national level January 1996
- Statement of the Hon. Rosa DeLauro on $10 Billion Accenture Government Contract June 1, 2004
- "Canadian sues US over deportation". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC News. 23 January 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
- Anti-terror supremo is latest to quit Bush team December 1, 2004
- "Ridge: I fought raising security level before '04 vote". Political Ticker. CNN. August 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
- Bedard, Paul. "Tom Ridge on National Security After 9/11", U.S. News & World Report, 19 Aug 2009.
- Walsh, Katherine (2007-10-29). "Five Things Tom Ridge Has Learned About Risk". CIO magazine. CXO Media. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Va. Tech gunman was 'well-prepared' to continue shooting spree". USA Today. 2007-05-21. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Former Gov. Ridge lending name, clout to new Harrisburg-D.C. lobbying firm". philly.com. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
- Associated Press (July 30, 2010). "Ex-Homeland Security boss joins gas drilling group". Google News. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- "Company News; Home Depot Names Tom Ridge a Director". The New York Times. 2005-02-25. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- Jordan, Meredith (2003-10-10). "Board work can be rewarding". Atlanta Business Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Tom Ridge Joins Savi Technology Board of Directors". RFID Update. 2005-04-08. Archived from the original on 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Savi Fact Sheet". corporate web site. Savi Technology. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Ex-Homeland Sec. joins Exelon board" by Gregory Meyer, Crain's Chicago Business, April 27, 2005. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
- "The Media-Lobbying Complex" by Sebastian Jones, The Nation, February 11, 2010 (March 1, 2010 edition of magazine). Retrieved 2010-02-19. Via Radio interview with SJones, CounterSpin, February 19, 2010.
- "Ridge joins Deloitte". Federal Computer Week. Media, Inc. November 2, 2006. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- Big changes at Hershey
- "Tom Ridge to Advise TechRadium On 'IRIS' Technology". Security InfoWatch. PRNewswire. January 9, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
- "PURE Bioscience Forms Advisory Panel Tom Ridge, Tommy G. Thompson Among Inaugural Members". 2009-09-01.
- "Ridge A Leading Candidate For McCain VP Role?". The Bulletin. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Poll says Specter holds 20-point edge over Toomey: A run by former Gov. Ridge would boost GOP's chances". www.post-gazette.com. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 4, 2009. Retrieved June 19, 2009.
- Micek, John L. (May 7, 2009). "Whither Tom Ridge?". The Morning Call. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- "Ridge Says He Won't Seek Specter's Senate Seat". WFMZ-TV. May 7, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
- Carey, Amanda (September 16, 2011). "Tom Ridge endorses Jon Huntsman". The Daily Caller. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Foley, Elise (March 14, 2012). "Tom Ridge Endorses Mitt Romney". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- The Pro-Freedom Republicans Are Coming: 131 Sign Gay Marriage Brief. The Daily Beast (2013-02-28). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- Struck, Jules (May 17, 2016). "Ridge Refuses to Support Trump". PoliticsPA. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
- Ridge, Tom; Bloom, Larry (2009). The Test of Our Times. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-53487-5. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
- "Ireland at risk of Jihad attacks". 12 July 2010.
- "Mercyhurst dedicates new intel school named after Gov. Tom Ridge". Mercyhurst University. April 11, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
- BBC News (9 November 2004). "Profile: Tom Ridge". BBC News.
- US Election Atlas
- US Election Atlas
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|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 21st congressional district
| Succeeded by|
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania
| Succeeded by|
|Governor of Pennsylvania
| Succeeded by|
|New office||United States Homeland Security Advisor
| Succeeded by|
|United States Secretary of Homeland Security
| Succeeded by|