Republican Christopher 'Chris' H. Smith

House
Christopher 'Chris' H. Smith

Birthdate: March 4, 1953
Birth Place: Rahway, NJ, United States
Residence: Robbinsville, NJ
Religion: Catholic
First Elected: 1980
Gender: Male

Candidacy

Party: Republican
State: New Jersey
Office: House
District: District 4

Education

Undergraduate: Trenton State College

Degree: BS

Chris Smith was born in Rahway, N.J., and now resides in Robbinsville. He earned a bachelor's degree at Trenton State College in 1975.

He worked for his family's sporting goods business and became an Eagle Scout as a teenager.

Smith was executive director of New Jersey Right to Life from 1976 to 1978. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 1978 but was elected two years later.

Smith and his wife, Marie, have four children.

Profile

Chris Smith may be best known as a member of Congress willing to insert himself into international human rights cases, particularly where children are involved.

He chaired a 2012 congressional hearing in which Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng testified by phone about alleged persecution of his relatives. The blind dissident eventually was allowed to leave China for the United States.

Also in 2012, he met with senior Bolivian officials to plead for the release of Jacob Ostreicher of New York, who Smith says has been wrongly jailed without being charged.

Before he became so closely tied to global human rights, Smith was perhaps best known as one of Congress' most outspoken opponents of abortion rights.

Smith was elected to the House from New Jersey's 4th Congressional District in 1980.

In the November 2012 general election, he will face Democrat Brian Froelich.

He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of its Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee. He also serves as chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Smith became closely involved in the case of David Goldman in 2009. The New Jersey man had been waging a four-year custody battle for his son in Brazil. Goldman had not been allowed to see his son since his former wife took the boy for a two-week vacation to her native Brazil in 2004 and never returned.

Goldman's wife later divorced him in Brazil and married another man before she died in 2008. With Smith's help, Goldman eventually was awarded custody by Brazilian officials in December 2009.

Smith also earned praise in 2008 for his efforts to help rescue two young girls from Howell Township who were trapped in the Republic of Georgia. The pair was stranded for nearly two weeks at their grandparents' farm in Georgia after Russia invaded the former Soviet state.

Shortly after the girls returned home, Smith began pushing legislation to make sure U.S. State Department officials have procedures to help others in similar situations.

Smith was among a group of congressmen who introduced a resolution in May 2010 calling on Japan to revamp its laws to allow parents to have access and visitation rights to children. Activists say Japan's court system is tilted against fathers and foreigners.

Smith was deeply involved in ultimately unsuccessful efforts to save Fort Monmouth, an Army base that closed in 2011 as part of a nationwide base-closing plan.

He opposes the death penalty, and stresses a need for economic growth, jobs, a clean environment, tax reform and "a world safer for ourselves and our children." He was an opponent of the 2008 federal financial bailout proposals.

President George W. Bush signed into law Smith's 2003 measure, called the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which targeted human slavery and rights abuses.

Source: Associated Press

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