|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 6th district
January 3, 2013
|Born||Garland Hale Barr IV
July 24, 1973
Lexington, Kentucky, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Eleanor Carol Leavell|
|Alma mater||University of Virginia (B.A.)
University of Kentucky (J.D.)
A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Barr completed undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia in 1996. While in college, he worked as an intern for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee. After graduation, he worked as a legislative assistant for then-Missouri Representative Jim Talent before enrolling at the University of Kentucky College of Law. He completed his law degree in 2001 and joined the Lexington firm of Stites & Harbison. After representing the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher in a dispute over residency requirements in 2003, he joined Fletcher's transition team after his election and eventually became part of his executive staff. He was not implicated in the hiring scandal that plagued Fletcher's administration, and in fact, claimed that he had warned administration officials of potential violations of the state merit system.
Barr returned to private practice after Fletcher was defeated for reelection. In 2009, he announced he would challenge Democrat Ben Chandler in the 2010 midterm elections. The National Republican Congressional Committee targeted the race as part of their strategy to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and provided considerable financial backing to Barr's campaign. Chandler won the election by fewer than 700 votes, and Barr finally conceded defeat after a recanvass failed to yield an appreciable difference in the margin. In mid-2011, however, he announced he would again challenge Chandler in 2012. Again aided by campaign funds from the national party - which were countered by contributions to Chandler by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - Barr won the election by over 11,000 votes.
Barr was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and is the son of Garland Hale Barr III and Rev. Donna R. (Faulconer) Barr. The Barr family has been in Lexington for generations, and Barr Street in that city is reportedly named for one of Barr's ancestors. His father founded the accounting firm of Barr, Anderson and Roberts and his mother is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington.
Barr graduated from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1992. He attended the University of Virginia where, as a contributor to a conservative campus publication called The Virginia Advocate, he was highly critical of then-President Bill Clinton for allegedly evading the draft. While in college, he was also an intern for U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republican National Committee as well as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. In 1993, he was arrested in Key West, Florida, and charged with possessing a fake Mississippi driver's license. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to eight hours of community service.
Barr graduated with a bachelor's degree in government and philosophy in 1996. From 1996 until 1998, he worked as a legislative assistant to Jim Talent, then a U.S. Representative from Missouri. In 1999, he was charged with public intoxication in Lexington, a charge that was dismissed four months later. In 2001, Barr earned a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law.
Commencing practice in Lexington, he joined the Fayette County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and co-founded the Lexington Charity Club - a non-profit organization of young men raising money for charitable causes - with Lee Greer and Rob Lewis. In 2002, he joined the liability defense service group and the business litigation service group at the Lexington law firm of Stites & Harbison. While there, he worked for former Democratic Kentucky Attorney General and future Governor Steve Beshear, who urged him to get involved in state politics. Barr and colleague Brad Cowgill were employed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ernie Fletcher in 2003 to fight charges that Fletcher's running mate, Hunter Bates, did not meet the state's residency requirements for eligibility for the office of lieutenant governor. A judge ruled against Bates, and he was dropped from the ticket.
After Fletcher won the election, Barr was named to the governor-elect's transition team in the Public Protection and Regulation Cabinet. Ultimately, Fletcher chose Barr as general counsel for the governor's office of local development. When Fletcher declared April to be Child Abuse Prevention Month in Kentucky, Barr wrote Fletcher's speech for the occasion. While researching the speech, he made contact with the non-profit group Prevent Child Abuse in Kentucky. He became interested in the organization's mission and was elected to its board of directors in 2004; he served as vice-president of the organization in 2007 and president in 2008 and 2009.
Fletcher's term in office was marred by a hiring scandal that involved violations of the state merit system. Barr was not implicated in the scandal; he told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Fletcher's Local Initiatives for a New Kentucky (LINK) outreach program - a sub-unit of the office of local development - stopped recruiting and vetting individuals for merit positions in the executive branch after he briefed officials about an opinion issued by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission during the administration of Fletcher's predecessor, Paul E. Patton, regarding acceptable and unacceptable hiring under the merit system. The Herald-Leader later requested copies of any employment recommendations made by LINK employees, but Barr refused the request, citing an exemption in Kentucky's Open Records Act that provides exemptions for "preliminary drafts, notes and correspondence" of state employees.
In 2007, Fletcher's general counsel resigned to become executive director of the Kentucky Bar Association; deputy general counsel David E. Fleenor was elevated to general counsel, and Barr replaced Fleenor as deputy general counsel. In this capacity, he authored a defense of Fletcher's executive order that the Ten Commandments be posted in the rotunda of the state capitol alongside other historical documents. Fletcher was defeated for reelection in 2007 and before his term expired, he named Barr to the state Public Advocacy Commission.
In April 2008, Barr returned to private practice as an associate at the law firm of Kinkead and Stilz; he also worked as a part-time instructor, teaching constitutional law at the University of Kentucky. He was chosen as an alternate delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention and served as vice-president of the Fayette County Republican Party.
After forming an exploratory committee in September 2009, on November 10, 2009, Barr became the first Republican to formally announce that he would seek his party's nomination to challenge incumbent 5th district congressman Ben Chandler. In the announcement, he touted his opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (which Chandler had also opposed) and the American Clean Energy and Security Act (which Chandler supported). Barr's campaign raised far more money than those of any of his five opponents in the Republican primary. Barr garnered 31,255 votes in the primary, while his opponents' totals ranged from 4,789 to 1,880.
In an interview with WKYT-TV in July, Barr further elaborated on his platform. Declaring his support for the free market, he denounced the recently signed Dodd-Frank Act that enacted new regulations on the banking industry. He called for an end to the practice of politicians earmarking funds for special projects in their districts, a position that put him at odds with state party leaders like McConnell and long-time 5th district Congressman Hal Rogers. Although he supported strengthening security along the U.S. border with Mexico to curb illegal immigration, he stated his belief that fellow Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul's plan to deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The National Republican Congressional Committee targeted Barr's race against Chandler as part of their strategy to gain control of the House of Representatives during the 2010 midterm elections, and Ohio Congressman John Boehner - who stood to become Speaker of the House if the Republicans gained a majority - visited the state to campaign on Barr's behalf. Substantial amounts of money from political groups outside the state aided both candidates and spawned a number of negative campaign ads. Chandler started the barrage in August with ads alluding to Barr's arrest in Florida for using a fake ID and seeking to tie him to the wrongdoing of the Fletcher administration. Barr countered with ads criticizing Chandler's support of cap-and-trade legislation - an unpopular vote in coal-dependent Kentucky - and his vote in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which Barr characterized as a waste of taxpayer money that did little to stimulate an economic recovery.
Unofficial election day results showed Chandler scoring a narrow victory over Barr, but the race was so close that Barr refused to concede. When the official results were released, Chandler had received 119,812 votes to 119,163 for Barr. Barr petitioned Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson for a recanvass of the voting machines in the district, but this yielded only one additional vote for Barr. On November 12, ten days after the election, Barr announced that he would concede the election to Chandler rather than requesting a full recount.
On June 9, 2011, Barr announced that he would again challenge Chandler for his seat in the 2012 elections. The announcement was immediately hailed by Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, who said, "we need Republicans like Andy Barr to join us in Congress to cut spending, lower taxes and reduce the national debt." Chandler responded to the announcement by declaring, "Next year, voters will have a very simple choice to make: whether to protect and save Social Security and Medicare, or to end them," an allusion to Barr's publicly expressed support for Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan's budget proposal.
In July 2012, Roll Call reported that "a wide swath of influential Republicans in Kentucky see Barr's campaign as something of a lost cause...In the eyes of those who know Kentucky best, from Washington, D.C., to Frankfort, this isn't much of a race right now."
Barr easily turned back token opposition in the Republican primary and again received financial support from the National Republican Campaign Committee in his general election campaign. When Chandler decided not to attend the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Barr charged that he was trying to avoid association with President Barack Obama, who was seeking a second term but who was unpopular with many voters in Kentucky. A spokesperson for Chandler maintained that Chandler had previous engagements in his home district that week, but that he supported Obama's reelection. Barr was chosen to give a brief address at the 2012 Republican National Convention, during which he decried Obama's perceived hostility toward the coal industry. Chandler campaign staffers criticized Barr's decision to attend the convention, stating that he should spend the time in his district, getting to know the people there better. They also mocked the fact that the backdrop for Barr's speech was a picture of the city of Louisville, which is not in the 6th district; Barr's campaign countered that they had no part in choosing the backdrop.
Both candidates began their TV ad campaigns with more positive ads; Barr's wife appeared in his first ad, touting him as a "family man", while Chandler tried to combat Barr's charges of fiscal liberalism by releasing an ad criticizing excessive government spending.Tea Party-backed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul endorsed Barr despite differences between the two on some policy matters, including Barr's support for the Patriot Act. The positive tone did not hold as the race tightened, however. Chandler's campaign attacked Barr for using a mining executive from Morganfield - which is well outside the 6th district - as a coal miner from Estill County - which is in the district. The campaign's charges that the man depicted was "not a miner" prompted him to threaten a suit for defamation, and he produced copies of his certified miner credentials in rebuttal to the charge. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also bought ads that again raised the issue of Barr's previous conviction and his association with Fletcher.
Barr won the election by a vote of 153,222 to 141,436.
Barr faced Democrat Elisabeth Jensen in the General Election of 2014. 147,404 votes were cast for Barr, and 98,290 to Jensen, about 60% to 40% respectively. Although not a competitive race, Barr was able to garner wide support and raise an incredible amount of cash compared to the low funds challenger Elisabeth Jensen took in. The Sixth Congressional District in Kentucky is a right of center swing district.
In the 2016 Congressional elections, Democrat Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, a graduate of Yale Divinity School and former Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Churches, challenged Barr in the 6th Congressional District. She ran with the support of former Lt. Governor Crit Luallen, State Senator Reggie Thomas, State Representative Susan Westrom, and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Barr won reelection, capturing 61.1% of the votes cast. 
On December 5, 2017, Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, declared his intentions to run against Barr in the 2018 Kentucky Congressional race. Two additional candidates are also running against Barr: former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath and state Senator Reggie Thomas.
Barr's first two-year term began on January 3, 2013.
Barr supported the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014 (H.R. 4005; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend laws that govern the activities of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the Maritime Administration (MARAD) within the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). Barr testified in favor of the bill because it would "remove the requirement that Valley View Ferry captains be licensed through the Coast Guard, and instead allow the state to implement its own licensing requirement." At present, the local ferry has had to cut back on hours because the ferry has been unable to find a new captain for ferry due to the stringent Coast Guard requirements to get a merchant mariner license, despite the fact that the ferry only travels 500 feet on steel cables, without any steering capabilities. If the bill were to pass, the state government would be able to lower the licensing requirement for such a small ferry with only limited capabilities.
On July 11, 2013, Barr introduced the CFPB Rural Designation Petition and Correction Act (H.R. 2672; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to establish an application process that would allow a person to get their county designated as "rural" for purposes of a federal consumer financial law. One practical effect of having a county designated "rural" is that people can qualify for some types of mortgages by getting them exempted from the CFPB's qualified mortgage rule.
On March 6, 2014, Barr introduced the Restoring Proven Financing for American Employers Act (H.R. 4167; 113th Congress), a bill that would "exempt existing collateralized loan obligations from the so-called "Volcker Rule," which bars banks from making risky trades with their own money and limits their investments in certain funds." The bill passed in the House on April 29, 2014 in a voice vote.
In December 2017, Barr voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He introduced the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which passed and states that sellers of mobile homes are not loan or mortgage originators and are therefore not subject to the Truth in Lending Act.
Barr is pro-life. Barr believes that abortion should be illegal unless the mother's life is threatened. Barr opposes using federal funding to support organizations that offer abortions. In a 2012 interview, Barr said that "I think the vast majority of people of this country have come to the conclusion that wherever you are on this issue, we shouldn't have taxpayer funding for abortion."
Barr has a "D" rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. Barr opposes veterans having access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence. However, Barr supports medical marijuana research efforts. He also supports the growing of hemp for industrial purposes.
In 2008, Barr married Eleanor Carol Leavell of Georgetown, Kentucky, who serves as the executive director of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. They have two daughters, Eleanor and Mary Clay. The Barrs are members of the Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 6th congressional district
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Representatives by seniority
|113th||Senate: M. McConnell | R. Paul||House: H. Rogers | E. Whitfield | J. Yarmuth | B. Guthrie | T. Massie | A. Barr|
|114th||Senate: M. McConnell | R. Paul||House: H. Rogers | E. Whitfield (until Sep. 2016) | J. Yarmuth | B. Guthrie | T. Massie | A. Barr | J. Comer (from Nov. 2016)|
|115th||Senate: M. McConnell | R. Paul||House: H. Rogers | J. Yarmuth | B. Guthrie | T. Massie | A. Barr | J. Comer|