Elected: 2000, 7th term.
Born: June 1, 1963, Livingston Cnty.
Education: Adrian Col., B.A. 1985
Professional Career: Co-founder, E.B.I. Builders, 1985; FBI spec. agent, 1988-94.
Family: Married (Diane) , 2 children
Mike Rogers, a Republican first elected in 2000, is a former FBI agent who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. (He is one of two Republican Mike Rogers in the House; the other one is from Alabama.) Michigan’s Rogers can be critical of President Barack Obama when the television cameras are on, but runs the Intelligence panel in a more bipartisan fashion than his GOP predecessors. He announced in February 2014 that he would not seek re-election and instead would become a talk-radio host.
Rogers grew up in Brighton, in Livingston County, and graduated from Adrian College in southeastern Michigan. After serving in the Army, he graduated from the FBI Academy and focused on public corruption cases as an FBI special agent in Chicago for six years. He returned to Michigan in 1994, started a home construction business, and was elected to the state Senate, where in 1999 he became majority floor leader. In 2000, when Democrat Debbie Stabenow gave up the 8th District seat to run successfully for the Senate, Rogers and Democrat Dianne Byrum, a fellow state senator, both ran for the seat. Each candidate raised about $2 million, and it turned into the closest race in the country that year. It took six weeks to count the final tally, and Rogers won by 111 votes.
He has described his political philosophy as a version of “compassionate conservatism,” with more conservatism on cultural issues than on fiscal matters. Well-respected by the Republican leadership, Rogers in 2010 was named the chairman of the Intelligence panel after the GOP won a majority in the House. The once-nonpartisan panel had developed a reputation for nasty political fights, and Rogers and ranking Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland agreed to get along. The two men have traveled together to foreign hot spots as part of their oversight duties, a practice that other top committee members had avoided, and have made a point of sitting together at classified White House briefings. “We’ve got a good working relationship and good social relationship as well,” Rogers told The Washington Post in February 2011. “I don’t know if that happens that much anymore.”
Legislatively, he and Ruppersberger put together a cyber security bill that passed the House but stalled in the Senate. After Osama bin Laden’s death, Rogers made a point of praising Obama as well as then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, saying that the latter did a “phenomenal job” of keeping him informed of the secret operation.
But Rogers remained critical of the Obama administration in other areas and, during the 2012 presidential race, signed on as Republican Mitt Romney’s special policy adviser for national security. Rogers joined his Senate counterpart, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, in arguing in May 2012 that the Taliban had grown stronger since Obama’s decision to send “surge” troops to Afghanistan in 2010. Two months later, he called a recent slew of national security leaks “probably the most damaging” in the nation’s history. He also blasted the administration's response to the September assassination of the U.S. ambassador in Libya, something that Romney briefly sought to make a campaign issue.
The Intelligence job consumes the bulk of Rogers’ time, but he also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Over objections from Democrats, he got a bill through the panel in September 2012 that would alter the new health care law’s medical loss ratio by excluding insurance brokers’ fees from counting as administrative costs. The medical loss ratio mandates that insurers spend no less than about 80% of their premiums on medical care rather than on administrative costs or profit, or rebate the difference to policyholders.
With his law enforcement and legislative backgrounds, Rogers made an impression on colleagues early in his House career with his sound advice in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. He provided expertise on the high-technology tools used to track terrorists and on the use of wiretaps, and he urged that airport screeners have federal supervision. When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's explosive revelations of the NSA's domestic surveillance hit the news in June 2013, Rogers remained a stalwart defender of the agency.
In the waning years of the Republican majority, Rogers sought a post in the party leadership. He positioned himself to run for whip in 2006, but the Republicans lost the majority that year and there were fewer leadership positions to go around; Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt got the whip job. In the 2010 election, Rogers was called on to help the National Republican Congressional Committee as chairman of incumbent retention. Borrowing from the Democrats’ successful campaign tactics, Rogers discussed with incumbent Republicans ways they could shore up their support before the election and pressured delinquent incumbents to step up their fundraising. He has remained a loyal fundraiser; his leadership political action committee spent more than $580,000 to help other GOP candidates in the 2012 election.
Rogers can be overtly partisan. In 2007, he challenged a $23 million earmark for the congressional district of then-Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a confidant of then Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When Rogers failed to cut the earmark from the bill, according to Rogers’ account, Murtha told him, “I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriations bill, because they are gone, and you will not get any earmarks, now and forever.” Rogers said that he replied, “Is that supposed to make me afraid of you?” Republicans tried to reprimand Murtha, and though that move was tabled, Murtha apologized. Later, in 2009, Rogers’ spirited speech against the Democrats’ health care overhaul got more than 5 million hits on YouTube.
Less frequently, Rogers can also be bipartisan on non-spying matters, especially when he wants something for his constituents. He persuaded the Republican leadership not to strongly oppose the Democrats’ 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” program, which helped Michigan’s automakers by offering government reimbursements for replacing old cars with new fuel-efficient models. In August 2009, he voted to extend jobless benefits by 13 weeks, an important issue in Michigan’s many pockets of high unemployment.
Rogers won reelection with 55% and 57% of the vote in 2006 and 2008, respectively, which were difficult years for a Michigan Republican. In both 2010 and 2012, he had only nominal competition from Lance Enderle, a former football coach and Michigan State University graduate student. Rogers won with 64% and 59%, respectively.
In announcing his retirement, Rogers said he had never intended to become a career politician. "I have always believed in our founders' idea of a citizen legislature," he said in a statement. "I had a career before politics and always planned to have one after. The genius of our institutions is they are not dependent on the individual temporary occupants privileged to serve." He said he would join Cumulus Media's national radio network, which syndicates programs by such big names as Don Imus, Michael Savage and Mike Huckabee.