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Charlie Dent

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Charlie Dent
Charlie Dent official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Ethics Committee
In office
January 3, 2015 – January 3, 2017
Preceded by Mike Conaway
Succeeded by Susan Brooks
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 15th district
In office
January 3, 2005 – May 12, 2018
Preceded by Pat Toomey
Succeeded by Vacant
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 5, 1999 – November 30, 2004
Preceded by Roy Afflerbach
Succeeded by Pat Browne
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 132nd district
In office
January 1, 1991 – November 25, 1998
Preceded by John Pressman
Succeeded by Jennifer Mann
Personal details
Born Charles Wieder Dent
(1960-05-24) May 24, 1960 (age 58)
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pamela Serfass
Children 3
Education Pennsylvania State University (BA)
Lehigh University (MPA)

Charles Wieder Dent[1] (born May 24, 1960) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district from 2005–2018. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dent worked in a variety of occupations after graduating from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Lehigh University and served as an aide to Congressman Donald L. Ritter. From 1991 to 2004, he served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In 2004, Dent won election to the United States House of Representatives, succeeding Pat Toomey.

In the House, Dent became a member of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership and the Tuesday Group. He became co-chair of the Tuesday Group in 2007. He serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, and previously chaired the House Ethics Committee.

In September 2017, Dent announced that he would retire from Congress and not seek re-election to another term in 2018.[2] In April 2018, Dent announced that he would retire in May 2018, not serving out the remainder of his term.[3][4] He resigned on May 12, 2018, leaving the seat vacant.[5]

Early life, education, and early career

Dent was born and raised in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the son of Marjorie L. (née Wieder) and Walter R. Dent. He is of German, English, and Irish descent.[6] Dent is a 1978 graduate of Allentown's William Allen High School. He received a bachelor's in international politics from Pennsylvania State University in 1982 and a masters in public administration from Lehigh University in 1993.[7] He is a member of Phi Kappa Psi,[citation needed] and previously worked as a development officer for Lehigh University, an industrial electronics salesman, a hotel clerk, and an aide to U.S. Representative Donald L. Ritter.[7]

Pennsylvania legislature

Before being elected to the United States Congress, Dent was a member of the State Legislature for 14 years. He represented Pennsylvania's 132nd house district from 1991–99 after unseating Democratic incumbent Jack Pressman in a heavily Democratic district in 1990.

In 1998, Dent won an open 16th District Senate seat when Democrat Roy Afflerbach (who later served as Mayor of Allentown from 2002–06) retired to take up an ultimately unsuccessful bid for Congress.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives


Dent was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2004, succeeding Pat Toomey, who gave up his seat to challenge Arlen Specter for the U.S. Senate. He defeated Democrat Joe Driscoll 59%–39%.


He won re-election 54%–44% against Charles Dertinger.


He won re-election 59%–41% against Allentown Democratic Party Chairman Sam Bennett.


Dent won re-election against Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan with 54% of the vote,[8] the smallest percent of the vote he received in his four elections.[9]


Dent defeated Democrat Rick Daugherty, the Chairman of the Lehigh County Democratic Party, 57%–43%.[10]


Rep. Charles Dent, R-PA, introduces legislation (HR 1254) to ban the ingredients found in synthetic marijuana December 7, 2011, on the House floor. The House passed the legislation December 8, 2011. Video:C-SPAN

Charlie Dent is a moderate Republican.[11] The non-partisan National Journal gave Dent a composite ideological rating of 62% conservative and 38% liberal in 2013.[12] The National Journal considered Dent to be one of the three most moderate Republicans in that year.[13] GovTrack placed Dent near the ideological center of the House of Representatives; the liberal American Civil Liberties Union gave him a rating of 35% and the fiscally conservative United States Chamber of Commerce gave him a 95% rating.[14] Before retiring, Dent voted in line with President Trump's position on legislation 93% of the time.[15]

In April 2011, Dent voted in favor of a 2012 budget proposal authored by Paul Ryan entitled The Path to Prosperity, which included several controversial changes to both health care and tax policy. Dent said of the bill that, "It's a serious, sober document ... There are some things in there that I think are interesting."[16]

Dent was ranked as the 47th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th United States Congress (and the fourth most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member's bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member's co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).[17]

Dent, after announcing his retirement during late 2017, stated dealing with the "freewheeling president" became "exhausting". According to The Hill, he stated "disorder, chaos, instability, uncertainty, intemperate statements" were not "conservative virtues".[18] He delivered a farewell speech on May 10,[19] and resigned on May 12, 2018, leaving the seat vacant.[5]

Citizenship and immigration

In April 2010, Dent introduced a resolution urging the U.S. State Department to issue a Certificate of Loss of Nationality to Anwar al-Awlaki. He said al-Awlaki "preaches a culture of hate" and had been a functioning member of al-Qaeda "since before 9/11", and had effectively renounced his citizenship by engaging in treasonous acts.[20] Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30, 2011, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman was likewise killed two weeks later, both ordered by U.S. President Barack Obama. His eight-year-daughter Nawar, also a U.S. citizen, was killed in a SEAL commando raid in Yemen on January 29, 2017, ordered by President Donald Trump, in which a SEAL was also killed and an Osprey aircraft was destroyed.[21]

In January 2012, Dent co-sponsored the Enemy Expatriation Act with Senator Joe Lieberman. The bill's purpose was 'To add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality', where the term "hostilities" means any conflict subject to the laws of war.[22] The proposal would allow the United States government to strip U.S. citizens of their citizenship without requiring that the citizen have been convicted of a crime.[23]

Dent criticized President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order to temporarily curtail Muslim immigration until better screening methods are devised. He stated that “This is ridiculous. I guess I understand what his intention is, but unfortunately the order appears to have been rushed through without full consideration. You know, there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world.”[24]


Dent is a staunch advocate of a federal prohibition of online poker. In 2005, he cosponsored H.R. 4411, the Goodlatte-Leach Internet Gambling Prohibition Act.[25] Dent stated in 2018 that he would "tuck" his Export-Import Bank bill into the spending bill as an omnibus. The bill would "lower the quorum on the board so it could approve large loans once more." As of 2018, the reopened bank has a seven-member board that lacks a quorum.[26]


At the start of the 112th Congress, Dent received a new position on the coveted House Appropriations Committee, and continues to serve on the House Ethics Committee. In June 2013, Dent decided to co-sponsor the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), a bill that would require schools and districts to adopt policies specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment against all students, including LGBT young people. Dent is known for his efforts to promote LGBT equality throughout the nation.[27]


Dent is a proponent of hydrogen fuel and is one of the four founding members of the House Hydrogen Fuel Cell Caucus. In 2006 he proposed legislation aimed at promoting the rollout of commercial hydrogen fueling stations. He has spoken of his vision for the development of a "Hydrogen Highway East", similar to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans for a Hydrogen Highway on the West Coast. Dent is a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership. In 2007 he was elected to co-chair the Tuesday Group, a centrist organization of Congressional Republicans.[citation needed]

Drug policy

Dent is a proponent of drug prohibition, and is outspoken on the dangers of novel synthetic drugs, having personally sponsored several bills aimed to schedule new psychoactive compounds. In 2011, he sponsored the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which sought to schedule a large number of cannabimimetic agents, as well as 26 other psychoactive substances. The bill passed the House but did not make its way through the Senate.[28] On March 27, 2017, the bill was re-introduced as the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2017.[29] If passed in its current text (as of May 14, 2017), this bill would schedule a large number of novel psychoactive substances, including 96 phenethylamines, 94 cannabimimetic agents, 15 arylcyclohexylamines, 21 tryptamines, 8 benzylpiperazines, 4 benzodiazepines, 4 opioid or opioid-like substances, 8 piperazines, and 2 tropane alkaloids.[citation needed]


As a Republican representing a district with Democratic leanings, he sometimes crosses party lines on legislation. On the issue of abortion and reproductive health care, Dent is a pro-choice Republican.[30] In 2018, Planned Parenthood, which supports legal access to abortion and birth control, gave Dent a 41% lifetime score for voting with their positions and the pro-life National Right to Life Committee, which opposes legal abortion, gave him a 50% rating in the same year.[12] Dent co-sponsored legislation to fund embryonic stem-cell research and was one of the Republicans who broke with their party to support the use of embryos in research.[31]

Charlie Dent opposes the Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.[32] However, he was one of 20 House Republicans who broke with their party and voted against repealing Obamacare in 2017.[33] Dent voted against the 2007 Reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP.[34]

Charlie Dent supports same-sex marriage.[35] He sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would have banned employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and he voted to allow foreign same-sex partners to receive green cards.[36] The Human Rights Campaign, which supports same-sex marriage and LGBT rights, gave him a 68% for their legislative scorecard.[37] In December 2010, Dent was one of fifteen Republican House members to vote in favor of repealing the United States military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on openly gay service members.[38][39]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships


In 2014, Dent introduced a bill to give states more flexibility in how they provide health insurance to children from families between 100 and 133 of the federal poverty level, according to The Ripon Advance.[41]

The Next Generation Choices Foundation selected Dent to be the Elsie Hillman Speaker at their annual National Cancer Prevention Day event in 2016 in recognition of his efforts to support legislation related to cancer prevention.[42]

Electoral history

U.S. House, 15th District of Pennsylvania (General Election) [43]
Year Winning candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
2004 Charlie Dent Republican 59% Joe Driscoll Democratic 39% Frank Gonzalez Libertarian 1% Greta Browne Green Party 1%
2006 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 54% Charles Dertinger Democratic 43% Greta Browne Green Party 3%
2008 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 59% Sam Bennett Democratic 41%
2010 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 54% John Callahan Democratic 39% Jake Towne Independent 7%
2012 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 57% Rick Daugherty Democratic 43%
2014 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 100%
2016 Charlie Dent (inc.) Republican 58% Rick Daugherty Democratic 38% Paul Rizzo Libertarian 4%

Personal life

Dent is married to Pamela Jane Serfass and has three children.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Pennsylvania Abstract – Pennsylvania State Data Center. November 9, 2010. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  2. ^ DeBonis, Mike. "Rep. Charlie Dent, outspoken GOP moderate, will not seek reelection". Washington Post. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  3. ^ GOP Congressman Charlie Dent resigning
  4. ^ GOP Rep. Charlie Dent Resigning 'In the Coming Weeks'
  5. ^ a b Brelje, Beth (May 14, 2018). "Charlie Dent, Pat Meehan's constituents can still get help". Reading Eagle.
  6. ^ "Dent". Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Charlie Dent". House Republicans. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania Election Results". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "House Races". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  10. ^ 2014 Election Results Senate: Live Map by State, Midterm Midterm Races Races,; accessed November 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "Moderate Republican Rep. Charlie Dent to resign". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  12. ^ a b "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  13. ^ Voorhees, Josh (2013-02-21). "Who Is the Most Liberal Republican in the House? Who Is the Most Conservative Democrat?". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  14. ^ "Charles Dent, former Representative for Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional District -". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  15. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (2017-01-30). "Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  16. ^ Miller, Sean J.; D'Aprile, Shane (April 26, 2011). "Vulnerables offer praise for Ryan plan". Ballot Box: The Hill's Campaign Blog. The Hill. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  17. ^ The Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index (PDF), The Lugar Center, March 7, 2016, retrieved April 30, 2017
  18. ^ Zanona, Melanie. "Retiring GOP lawmakers cut loose on Trump". The Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  19. ^ "Transcript: U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent's farewell speech to Congress". The Morning Call. May 11, 2018.
  20. ^ Levine, Mike (April 22, 2010). "Rep. Introduces Resolution to Strip Radical Cleric of US Citizenship". Fox News Covers Congress. Fox News. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
  21. ^ Myre, Greg. "Trump Aims For Big Splash In Taking On Terror Fight", NPR, 29 January 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  22. ^ (112th Congress), H. R. 3166. "Enemy Expatriation Act". GovTrack. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  23. ^ New Bill Known As Enemy Expatriation Act Would Allow Government To Strip Citizenship Without Conviction,, January 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Blake, Aaron. "Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump's travel ban; here's where the rest stand". Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  25. ^ "H.R.4411 – Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act: Co-Sponsors" (109th Congress, 2005–2006). Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  26. ^ Wong, Scott. "Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill". The Hill. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  27. ^ Middleton, Josh (June 17, 2013). "Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent to co-sponsor LGBT-specific anti-bullying Bill". Philly Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  28. ^ "Text – H.R.1254 – 112th Congress (2011–2012): Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 – – Library of Congress". May 14, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  29. ^ "H.R.1732 – 115th Congress (2017–2018): Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2017 – – Library of Congress". May 14, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  30. ^ Kilgore, Ed. "The Near-Extinction of Pro-Choice Republicans in Congress". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  31. ^ Helfrich, Jesse (2011-06-29). "Stem cell bill gets Republican champion". TheHill. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  32. ^, The Washington Times. "Charlie Dent: Bipartisan caucus creates new Obamacare repeal-and-replace plan". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  33. ^ "The 20 Republicans who voted against the Obamacare repeal bill". POLITICO. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  34. ^ "The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  35. ^ "Republican Congressman Backs Gay Marriage Because 'Life Is Too Short'". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  36. ^ "Meet Charlie Dent, One of Two Moderately Sane House Republicans". The New Republic. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  37. ^ Campaign, Human Rights. "Congressional Scorecard | Human Rights Campaign". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  38. ^ Chris Geidner, House Passes DADT Repeal Bill Archived October 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Metro Weekly (December 15, 2010).
  39. ^ House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Archived January 18, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times, December 15, 2010.
  40. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  41. ^ Martin, Aaron. "Dent bill aims to protect state-run CHIPs" Archived April 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Ripon Advance. January 28, 2014; retrieved January 31, 2014.
  42. ^ "Dent outlines congressional cancer prevention efforts". The Ripon Advance. The Ripon Society. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  43. ^ "CQ 2008 Election Guide". CQ Politics. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved March 2, 2009.

External links

Media related to Charlie Dent at Wikimedia Commons

  • Charlie Dent at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Pressman
Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
from the 132nd district

Succeeded by
Jennifer Mann
Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Roy Afflerbach
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 16th district

Succeeded by
Pat Browne
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Pat Toomey
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district

Preceded by
Mike Conaway
Chair of the House Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
Susan Brooks
Retrieved from ""
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