Emerson will leave Congress to head rural electric lobby

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2012 - Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., announced today that she will resign from Congress March 1 to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the trade association of cooperative and consumer-owned utilities. She will succeed Glenn English, who announced his intention to retire in December 2011 after 19 years.

“Her background as a Member of Congress and a trade association executive - coupled with her extensive knowledge of the issues facing electric cooperatives and rural America - make Jo Ann eminently qualified to lead NRECA and represent the interests of our members,” said NRECA Board President Mike Guidry. “The respect she has from both sides of the aisle and her proven ability to bridge political and policy divides and find common ground will serve NRECA well.”

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Emerson was elected to the House in 1996 from Missouri's Eighth Congressional District to succeed her husband, the late Rep. Bill Emerson, and continued his leadership in food assistance policy in Congress. She chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Appropriations.

Emerson also serves as co-chair of the Tuesday Group, is a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and holds a position on the board of the Congressional Hunger Center. She had communications and government affairs positions with the National Restaurant Association and the American Insurance Association before being elected to the first of nine terms in Congress.

NRECA gave her its Distinguished Service Award for work on energy issues. “Energy has a direct relationship with the vitality of rural America,” she said in a statement from NRECA today. “Without reliable, affordable electricity delivered by electric cooperatives serving thousands of communities, millions of Americans would be left without the energy that brings economic opportunity, unsurpassed quality of life, and the promise of growth in the future,” said Emerson. “NRECA is committed to the electric cooperatives of this great nation that fulfill this vital need, and work so hard every day to improve the quality of life for their member-owners.”

NRECA, based in Arlington, Va., represents more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives and utilities, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

Emerson will take over one of the most influential rural-based organizations, with a lobbying budget that has been greater than $5 million in some years (in 2008 and 2009, about $2 million this year) and a political action committee that spent $2.96 million during the 2012 campaign.

She will be the fifth person and the fourth former Member of Congress to head the association. Its earliest president was Clyde T. Ellis, a House member from Arkansas. Others were former Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland, once a congressman from Minnesota, and English, the Oklahoma member who, like Emerson, resigned from the House shortly after re-election.



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