“I wake up each morning knowing that there are 700,000 people counting on me to do something good for them, and make their lives better.”
- Alan Grayson
Alan Grayson has served three terms representing Central Florida in Congress (2009-2011, 2013-2017). He wrote more bills and passed more legislation than any other Member of Congress. National publications recognized him as “the most effective Member of Congress,” the most productive Member of Congress, and a “stand-out” Congressman in a “do-nothing” Congress. Orlando magazine reported that Alan “played a critical role in passing several pieces of high-powered legislation related to health care, financial reform, defense procurement and promoting tourism in the United States, while also steering millions of dollars in new federal spending to his Orlando district.”
Alan was born in the Bronx and raised in public housing. Both parents were teachers and union members. Alan was a sick child who went to the hospital four times each week. He depended on his parents’ union health coverage to stay healthy and alive.
Alan received the highest Regents test score among 50,000 students in the Bronx. He was admitted to Harvard College at the age of 16. He worked his way through college, cleaning toilets and as a night watchman on the midnight shift. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with high honors in three years, in the top 2% of his class.
After studying economics at Harvard, Alan worked as an economist, both full-time and part-time for four years. (When he later served in Congress, he was the only Member of Congress to have worked as an economist.)
Alan returned to school, Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government. In just four years, he earned his law degree (with honors) and his master’s degree, and he finished the coursework and passed the general exams for a Ph.D. in government. [He remains ‘ABD’ (all-but-dissertation) today.]
After graduation, he worked for two years as a law clerk. He worked with Judge (later Justice) Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Judge (later Justice) Antonin Scalia. He then went to work for Ginsburg’s husband’s law firm.
After five years at that law firm, Alan left to co-found and become the first President of IDT Corp., a telephone company that brought competition to international calling. IDT was the largest provider of international telephone service to Hispanics in the United States. That venture, which started on the second floor of a funeral home, “went public” in 1996, and has traded on both NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchanges. It grew to be a $2 billion-a-year business that appeared on the Fortune 1000 list.
After leaving IDT, Alan Grayson founded his own law firm. He came to represent whistleblowers, exposing fraud by government contractors. The Wall Street Journal profiled him, reporting that he was waging “a one-man war against contractor fraud in Iraq.” Vanity Fair called him a “crusader against government contract fraud.” Alan won the first case of Iraq contractor fraud ever to go to trial, winning a $14 million judgment for the taxpayers. Taxpayers Against Fraud named him “Attorney of the Year.” Orlando magazine noted that Alan’s commitment to defend the troops and the taxpayers had brought him “acclaim.”
In 2006, Alan Grayson ran for Congress, losing in the Democratic Primary. In 2008, he ran again and won, becoming the first Democrat elected to represent downtown Orlando in 34 years. (He remained the only Democrat until 2017.)
In his first term in office, Alan was the first “freshman” to pass a bill. His “Pay for Performance Act,” which prevented Wall Street from pocketing bailout money, passed the House in nine days. Grayson was responsible for virtually the only bipartisan legislation during that term, the Paul-Grayson ‘Audit the Fed’ amendment. Alan’s examination of Elizabeth Coleman, the Fed Inspector General, remains the most-watched Congressional video, with more than five million views. Grayson quickly became one of the best-known House Democrats, after Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich, appearing on 500,000 webpages. He had more followers on Facebook, subscribers on YouTube and followers on Twitter than any House Democrat other than Nancy Pelosi. His innovative competitive grants program doubled grants to his district in its first year, a $100 million increase. In the midst of the Housing Crisis, the Grayson Mandatory Mediation program cut foreclosures in half, and it was so successful that it was instituted statewide.
Grayson was defeated in the “Tea Party” wave election of 2010. Following the infamous “Citizens United” decision, the Koch Brothers and insurance companies spent $5 million against him, a record at that time.
Grayson roared back two years later, winning by 25 points. The House Historian informed him that his 43-swing between 2010 and 2012 was the biggest comeback in the history of the House.
In both 2012 and in 2014, Grayson was the only Member of the House who raised most of his campaign funds from small donors who gave less than $200. He proudly described himself as “unbought and unbossed.” More than 100,000 people have contributed to his campaigns.
In his second and third terms, Grayson passed more legislation than any other Member of the House – 121 bills, amendments and resolutions. Grayson also wrote more bills than any other Member of the House. In addition, he passed more amendments than any other Member in each of his two committees, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Science and Technology Committee. He obtained funding for the Orlando Veterans Hospital and the extension of Sunrail through his district. He also reversed a decision by the FAA to shut down air traffic control at Kissimmee Airport, even as four other Central Florida airports lost their FAA funding.
Alan Grayson has made some of the most memorable and well-known Congressional speeches in recent times. In 2009, he skewered the “Republican healthcare plan”: “Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.” (On CNN that week, he then ridiculed the GOP’s obstructionism by calling them “foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”) More recently, with the Republicans in control of Congress, Grayson cited an actual national poll demonstrating that Congress is less popular then “dog poop.”
Alan has visited every country, experience served him well on the Foreign Affairs Committee, including assignments on the Western Hemisphere and Middle East and North Africa Subcommittees. He served on the Science and Technology Committee, where he was the ranking member on the vital Energy Subcommittee overseeing a budget of $10 billion. During his first term, Alan served on the Financial Services Committee, and its Capital Markets and Oversight and Investigations subcommittees.
Alan ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, and he was defeated in the primary. He was the only 2016 U.S. Senate candidate who raised most of his campaign funds from small donors who gave less than $200.
Alan lives in Orlando with wife Dena and his five children: Skye, Star, Sage, Storm and Stone.