Updated at 8:40 a.m. on November 30.
Without Stephen Solarz, the former nine-term New York congressman who died on Monday, there might not be a Marikina City Footwear Museum in Manila.
Solarz, who died of esophageal cancer at 70, according to the Associated Press, is perhaps best known as the foreign affairs expert who in 1986 was responsible for revealing the opulence of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, the leaders of the Philippines who had pillaged their country’s treasury. When investigators searched Imelda’s closets looking for skeletons, they found thousands of shoes. The couple fled the country in 1986, but in 2001 Imelda returned and opened a museum with the hopes of turning her notoriety into an object of beauty.
Of course, over the nine terms that he served in the House of Representatives, the Democrat did much more than expose shoe collections. In 1980, Solarz was the first American public official to visit North Korea since the end of the Korean War. In 1981, while serving on a subcommittee on Asian affairs, he helped create a peace plan after the Cambodian genocide. And as a senior member of the Foreign Affairs committee, he supported military action in the Persian Gulf after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
His time in office was not without low points, however. In 1992, Solarz was cited in the House bank check-writing scandal. The scandal broke when it became known that the House of Representatives allowed members to overdraw their checking accounts without penalty. Solarz overdrew 743 checks in a 39-month period, making him one of the 22 worst abusers in the House.
In 1992, Solarz lost his seat in the House after his Brooklyn district was redrawn.