January 3, 2014

 

ISTA government relations staff attended services for former Congressman Andy Jacobs Jr. at the statehouse today. Congressman Jacobs was a Korean War veteran who served in the Indiana legislature and represented the Indianapolis area in the United States Congress for nearly 30 years, retiring in 1997. He passed away December 28.

 

Congressman Jacobs represented Hoosiers with common sense values and dignity. Jacobs often labeled himself as a “parsimonious progressive” and had no qualms about disagreeing with either political party.

 

Congressman Jacobs was known as a liberal on social issues and staunchly anti-war. But he was also well-known for his unabashed reputation as an ethical, penny-pinching, fiscal conservative.

 

Congressman Jacobs lived his life this way, not just lip service as many politicians do today. A Washington Post memorial may have captured this side of his the best:

 

…He accepted no speaking fees, took no junkets, refused House stamping privileges, took no PAC money, told potential donors not to send checks and, to save electricity and get some exercise, rarely used elevators to reach his upper-floor office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

 

He refused to accept his veterans disability check and routinely turned down his congressional pay raises. When the House media center provided him with a color television for his office, Mr. Jacobs declined.

 

Though often labeled a cheapskate, Mr. Jacobs credited his frugality with saving his life. Returning to Washington from Indianapolis in 1974, he was told at the airport that the flight was booked except for a seat in first class. It would cost $20 more than coach.

 

No thanks, he said, even though it was a government-paid ticket.

 

He booked the next available flight, in coach. The plane he would have been on crashed in a snowstorm as it approached Dulles Airport. All 92 passengers aboard were killed, including one of Mr. Jacobs’s staff members. He saved the U.S. Treasury $20, and the Treasury saved him.

 

Rest in peace Congressman Jacobs.