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|John G. Schmitz|
|Member of the California Senate
from the 34th district
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 35th district
June 30, 1970 – January 3, 1973
|Preceded by||James B. Utt|
|Succeeded by||Andrew J. Hinshaw|
|Member of the California Senate
from the 34th district
|Born||John George Schmitz
August 12, 1930
|Died||January 10, 2001 (aged 70)
|Political party||Republican, American Independent|
|Spouse(s)||Mary E. Schmitz (née Suehr)|
|Children||Nine (Mary Kay Letourneau, John P. Schmitz, Joseph E. Schmitz and four others by Mary E. Schmitz; John George Stuckle and Eugenie Bostrom by Carla Stuckle)|
|Alma mater||Marquette University (B.A.); California State University, Long Beach (M.A.)|
|Occupation||U.S. Marine, community college professor, politician|
John George Schmitz (August 12, 1930 – January 10, 2001) was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and California State Senate from Orange County, California. He was also a member of the John Birch Society. In 1972 he was the American Independent Party candidate for President of the United States.
Schmitz was notable for his extreme right-wing sympathies. By one measure, he was found to be the third most conservative member of Congress between 1937 and 2002 and the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, of which Schmitz was a longtime leader, later expelled him for extremist rhetoric.
In 1982, after it was revealed—and Schmitz admitted—that he had engaged in an extra-marital affair and fathered two children with one of his former college students, Schmitz's career as a politician effectively ended, as did his wife Mary's as a conservative political commentator.
Schmitz did not support or seek custody of his children by his lover, Carla Stuckle. When she died in 1994 after a long battle with diabetes, the children were placed in the care of high-profile astrologer and psychic Jeane Dixon, who was a close friend of Schmitz's wife, Mary. After Dixon's death in 1997, Carla's children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.
One of Schmitz's daughters with his wife Mary was Mary Kay Letourneau, who became the subject of much notoriety in the 1990s when she engaged in a sexual relationship with one of her 12-year-old male students. After she was released from prison (for statutory rape), Letourneau eventually married the student.
Two of Schmitz's other children, sons John and Joseph, have held prominent posts in Republican presidential administrations. Son Joseph Schmitz has also worked for the international security firm Blackwater USA.
Schmitz was born in Milwaukee. He obtained his B.S. degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1952 and an M.A. from California State University, Long Beach, in 1960. He served as a United States Marine Corps jet fighter and helicopter pilot from 1952 to 1960, and was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1960 to 1983.
After leaving the Marines, Schmitz took a job as an instructor in philosophy and political science at Santa Ana College. He also became active in the John Birch Society. His views attracted the attention of wealthy Orange County conservatives such as fast-food magnate Carl Karcher, sporting goods heir Willard Voit and San Juan Capistrano rancher Tom Rogers. They helped him win election to the California Senate in 1964 from a district in Orange County. His views were very conservative even by the standards of Orange County. Schmitz once joked that he had joined the John Birch Society in order to court the moderate vote in Orange County. He opposed sex education in public schools, and believed citizens should be able to carry loaded guns in their cars. He was also very critical of the civil unrest that characterized the mid-1960s. He called the Watts riots of 1965 "a Communist operation," and a year later sponsored a bill, which failed to pass, to investigate the backgrounds of teachers suspected of Communist affiliations. He also believed that state universities should be sold to private corporations as a curb against student protests.
He served in the state senate until 1970, when he won a special election to succeed the late James B. Utt in the House from California's 35th Congressional District. He won a full term in November.
When Richard Nixon, whose permanent residence at the time was in San Clemente—located in Schmitz' district— first went to China in 1972, Schmitz was asked if he supported President Nixon's going to China. Schmitz replied, "I didn't care that Nixon went to China, I was only upset that he came back." Nixon recruited Orange County Tax Assessor Andrew J. Hinshaw, a more moderate Republican, to run against Schmitz in the Republican primary for the renumbered 39th District. Hinshaw edged out Schmitz in the primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district. Angry at Nixon's role in his defeat, Schmitz ran as the American Independent Party candidate for president in the 1972 election; Tom Anderson was his running mate. They received 1,100,868 votes for 1.42% of the total. Schmitz's best showings were in the West—he received 9.30% of the vote in Idaho (where he finished second in some counties, ahead of Democrat George McGovern); 7.25% in Alaska; 5.97% in Utah; and between four and five percent in Oregon, Montana, and Washington. He also received 4.95% of the vote in Louisiana.
Schmitz won back his state senate seat in 1978, and subsequently named chairman of the Constitutional Amendments Committee.
In 1981, Schmitz—who was staunchly pro-life—chaired a committee hearing on abortion. Feminist attorney Gloria Allred testified at the hearing in support of the pro-choice position, and afterward sarcastically presented Schmitz with a black leather chastity belt. Schmitz's committee then issued a press release under the headline, "Senator Schmitz and His Committee Survive Attack of the Bulldykes", describing the hearing room as filled with "hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces." Allred sued Schmitz for libel, claiming $10 million in damages, but settled for $20,000 and an apology. In his apology, Schmitz stated, "I have never considered her (Allred) to be ... a slick, butch lawyeress." Allred later appeared at a press conference called by Senator Schmitz regarding Mid-East issues, handed Schmitz a box of frogs and shouted, "A plague on the House of Schmitz!"
The incident cost him his committee chairmanship and the John Birch Society stripped him of his membership for "extremism." Despite this, Schmitz announced plans to run for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 1982.
Early in 1982, John George Stuckle, an infant born on June 10, 1981, was treated at an Orange County hospital for an injured penis. A piece of hair was wrapped so tightly around the organ—"in a square knot," according to one doctor—that it was almost severed. The surgery went well and the baby suffered no permanent injury. However, the baby's mother, Carla Stuckle, a 43-year-old Swedish-born immigrant and longtime Republican volunteer, wasn't allowed to take John George home since some of the attending doctors were convinced the hair had been deliberately tied around his penis. Detectives threatened to arrest Carla and take John George away permanently unless she identified the father. Carla then identified Schmitz as John George's father.
During a custody hearing, Schmitz acknowledged fathering John George out of wedlock. He was also the father of Carla's daughter, Eugenie. The admission effectively ended his political career, though he made a quixotic run for the 38th Congressional District in 1984. He was defeated by former Congressman Bob Dornan in the Republican primary 65% to 11%, with another candidate earning 24%. Dornan would go on to defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry Patterson in November.
Schmitz's affair also ended his wife Mary's career as a political commentator on television, where she advocated from the conservative position on the political roundtable debate show Free for All. (Before entering television, Mary had already become known as the "West Coast Phyllis Schlafly", having campaigned vigorously against Equal Rights Amendment.) He and Mary briefly separated over the affair but reconciled.
Schmitz never financially supported nor helped raise his two children with Carla Stuckle. When the detective investigating the possible child abuse claim against Stuckle confronted Schmitz about fathering John George, Schmitz confirmed parentage and reportedly told the officer, "I do not and will not support him financially. It is her [Carla Stuckle's] responsibility to take care of him." Stuckle was not charged with any crime, and authorities returned John George to her care. Stuckle raised both John George and Eugenie on her own, working long hours at two different jobs. In 1994, when John George and Eugenie were 11 and 13 respectively, Carla Stuckle succumbed to complications from diabetes after a longtime battle against the disease. As Schmitz did not want custody, Mary Schmitz's close friend, high-profile astologer and psychic Jeane Dixon (whom both President Richard Nixon and Nancy Reagan consulted while they were each in the White House), took in the children. When Dixon died in 1997, the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.
Schmitz died of prostate cancer at the age of 70 on January 10, 2001. Following a packed funeral service at the Ft. Meyer post chapel, was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
An obituary printed in the Institute for Historical Review's journal, the Journal of Historical Review, described Schmitz as a "good friend of the Institute for Historical Review ... Schmitz attended at least two IHR Conferences, and was a subscriber for many years to the IHR's Journal of Historical Review."
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California's 45th congressional district special election, 1970
Note: All candidates ran in the same primary. Since no candidate won a majority, the top two finishers from both parties (Schmitz and Hartman) went to a runoff election.
California's 45th congressional district special election, 1970 (Runoff)
California's 45th congressional district election, 1970
California's 45th congressional district Republican primary election, 1972
1972 American Independent Party National Convention
|United States House of Representatives|
James B. Utt
|United States Representative for the 35th Congressional District of California
Glenn M. Anderson
|Party political offices|
|American Independent Party Presidential Candidate
1972 (3rd in popular vote)
Thomas J. Anderson