Current Position: US Representative for UT-04 since 2021
“Absolutely Outrageous”: Burgess Owens Rips Democrats Calling Georgia Voting Law “Jim Crow”
– September 2, 2021 (Short)
A Utah congressman is calling on the U.S. Department of Education to explain their decision to launch civil rights investigations into five states, Utah included, and their laws on masking in schools. The Department’s Office for Civil Rights is looking to determine if the laws violate the rights of students with disabilities.
Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Education Department Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday, asking for more information about the decision to investigate “five states that respect parents’ choices on in-school masking.” Representative Burgess Owens (R-Utah) is among those signing the letter alongside Foxx.
“Using threats to infringe on states’ authorities to protect students and ensure access to education is a gross overreach of federal power,” members write in the letter. “We are writing to gain a better understanding of the Department’s position on this topic.”
The letter continues, saying members “are concerned about the selective application of your so-called commitment to science and well-being of students, as well as your commitment to administering the laws faithfully under your jurisdiction.” You can read the full copy of the letter here.
Current Utah law says local health departments can issue mask mandates for schools in conjunction with elected county officials. The mandate could stand for 30 days before the county council or commission would need to approve that moving forward. In early August, after Salt Lake County Health Department executive director Dr. Angela Dunn proposed requiring masks for school children under the age of 12, county officials overturned it on a 6-3 vote. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall recently issued an emergency order requiring K-12 students, faculty, and visitors to wear masks while in schools.
Source: Government page
Burgess Owens is the Congressman from Utah’s Fourth Congressional District. Born in the segregated South, he saw people of all backgrounds come together to work tirelessly against adversity.
As a young man, Burgess was one of the first four black athletes recruited to play football at the University of Miami and the third black student there to receive a scholarship. He was the 13th pick in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft and joined the New York Jets, later playing safety for ten seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, winning the Superbowl with the 1980 Raiders’ team.
After retiring from the NFL, Burgess worked in the corporate sales world and eventually moved the Owens family to beautiful Utah. Before being elected to Congress, he started Second Chance 4 Youth, a non-profit dedicated to helping troubled and incarcerated youth.
Burgess now serves as a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and House Judiciary Committee. Burgess believes in dreaming big and follows the four guiding principles of faith, family, free markets, and education.
- Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, Ranking Member
- Subcommittee on Workforce Protections
- Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law
- Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
- Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
WASHINGTON DC OFFICE
1039 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3011
WEST JORDAN DISTRICT OFFICE
9067 S. 1300 W
West Jordan, UT 84088
Phone: (801) 999-9801
Clarence Burgess Owens (born August 2, 1951) is an American politician, nonprofit executive and former professional football player serving as the U.S. Representative for Utah’s 4th congressional district since 2021. He played safety for 10 seasons for the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, winning a championship with the Raiders in Super Bowl XV in 1980. Since leaving the NFL, Owens has founded several businesses and is the CEO of a nonprofit dedicated to helping troubled and incarcerated youth. A Republican, Owens narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Ben McAdams in the 2020 election. Owens, along with Byron Donalds, is one of two black Republicans in the House of Representatives.
Owens was born in Columbus, Ohio, where his Texas-born father had come to do graduate studies he could not complete in Texas due to Jim Crow laws. The family later moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where Owens’s father taught as a college professor. Owens was raised in a Baptist home.
Education and football career
Owens graduated from Rickards High School in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1969. He was one of four African-American players who were integrated onto a football team at a historically white high school. Owens was the third of four black athletes recruited to play at the University of Miami and the third black student to earn a scholarship. He was named a First-Team All-American defensive back, Most Valuable Defensive Player of the North–South All Star Game, and MVP of the Coaches All-American Game. He was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall Of Fame in 1980, and its Orange Bowl “Ring of Honor” in 1999.
The New York Jets selected Owens with the 13th pick in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on October 28. This was the Jets’ only touchdown scored on a kickoff return during the 1970s. He was a regular starter for the Jets for most of the 1970s, and was a part of the Raiders’ 1980 Super Bowl XV championship team.
In 1983, Owens moved to New York City. Shortly after leaving professional football, he and his brother ran a business that sold electronics to other businesses to track business expenses. The venture failed and Owens eventually declared bankruptcy.
Owens later relocated to a small apartment in Brooklyn, where he worked as a chimney sweep and security guard. He later moved to Philadelphia, where he took a sales job with WordPerfect. In later years he was an account executive with Sprint and Motorola, and from 2009 to 2013 he owned a business called Pure and Simple Solutions.
U.S. House of Representatives
On June 30, Owens won the primary with 43% of the vote, defeating Utah State Representative Kim Coleman by 20 points. He also defeated challengers KSL radio personality Jay McFarland and businessman Trent Christensen.
Owens faced Democratic incumbent Ben McAdams in the general election. On November 14, eleven days after the election and with 99% of precincts reporting, President Donald Trump and Utah U.S. Senator Mike Lee congratulated Owens on winning the election, based upon Breitbart News calling it for Owens. McAdams conceded to Owens on November 16 and the Associated Press called the race for Owens.
|Democratic||Ben McAdams (incumbent)||175,923||46.70%|
|United Utah||Jonia Broderick||8,037||2.13%|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
In late 2020, Owens was identified as a participant in the Freedom Force, a group of incoming Republican members of the House of Representatives who oppose what they consider far-left ideology in the House, specifically the progressive group called “the Squad“.
On January 6, 2021, during the certification of electoral votes for the 2020 United States presidential election, Owens opposed the objection to the electors from Arizona, but supported the objection to the electors from Pennsylvania.
Owens has said his views were liberal upon leaving the NFL. During his 2020 Republican primary campaign, he described his current views as “very conservative.” In June 2019, Owens provided testimony to a United States House Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee opposing a bill that advocated reparations for slavery. He has also criticized U.S. national anthem protests and Colin Kaepernick. In November 2019, Owens called Donald Trump “an advocate for black Americans”. On January 6, 2021, he voted to reject Pennsylvania’s electoral votes for President-elect Biden.
At a June 1, 2020, Republican primary debate, Owens said Democrats in Washington are held in thrall by Marxists and socialists. He said, “The days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill are over. We’re dealing with people who hate our country”. He also said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and that he supported President Trump. Later on in the campaign, Owens changed his stance, saying that coverage for preexisting conditions should be protected, and that he did not support repeal of Obamacare.
In a candidate forum in October 2020, Owens said the country’s top economic need was to reduce business regulations and make tax cuts. He also stated his opposition to a minimum wage increase. When asked about the need for bipartisanship, he responded:
The first thing we have to do is make sure that the Republican Party gets control again… We’re at a point now we just cannot afford to go off the cliff and allow a socialist to actually take the lead now… We have to be honest about this. There are truly people who don’t love our culture and do anything to destroy it and transform us into something else.
Owens is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has spoken publicly about his faith. He joined the Church during his final season with the Oakland Raiders. Crediting the influence of teammate Todd Christensen, Owens (raised Baptist), and his wife Josie (raised Catholic), were baptized around 10 p.m. on December 31, 1982. In 1988, he spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies held on the 10th anniversary of the 1978 Revelation on Priesthood in the LDS Church.
Works and publications
- It’s All About Team: Exposing the Black Talented Tenth, Paperless Publishing LLC, 2012.
- Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps, Post Hill Press, 2016.
- Why I Stand: From Freedom to the Killing Fields of Socialism, Post Hill Press, 2018.
- Black conservatism in the United States
- List of African-American United States representatives
- List of American sportsperson-politicians
- Dean, Suzanne (January 13, 2021). “Congressmen representing Sanpete both vote yes on electoral objections”. Sanpete Messenger. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- “Black American Representatives and Senators by Congress”.
- Burr, Thomas (July 6, 2020). “Meet Burgess Owens, the Utah Republican who seeks to replace Rep. Ben McAdams”. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
- Ensley, Gerald (April 10, 2008). “Ex-NFL player with Tallahassee roots speaks Friday”. Tallahassee Democrat. Archived from the original on April 12, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2008.
- Toone, Trent (May 30, 2013). “Former Oakland Raider recounts LDS conversion”. Deseret News. Retrieved August 19, 2020.
- “Burgess Owens”. Young America’s Foundation. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
- https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/biography/191166/burgess-owens Vote Smart bio of Owens
- “Burgess Owens – Sagamore Institute”. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
- “A second look at Burgess Owens’ Second Chance 4 Youth nonprofit”. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
- “Burgess Owens appears on his way to a win over Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District race”. The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Mihaly, Abigail (July 1, 2020). “Former NFL player Burgess Owens Wins Utah GOP primary”. The Hill. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
- “Former KSL radio personality Jay McFarland to run for Congress against Ben McAdams”. The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
- “Burgess Owens touts Trump’s record on race in speech at the Republican National Convention”. The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Imlay, Ashley. Trump, Lee congratulate Owens on win, while race remains to be called, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, November 14, 2020. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (November 16, 2020). “Rep. Ben McAdams to concede race; Burgess Owens wins in 4th Congressional District”. Deseret News. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
- Whitehurst, Lindsay & Sophia Eppolito. Republican Burgess Owens unseats Utah congressman McAdams, Associated Press, November 16, 2020.
- Jankowicz, Mia. “A group of incoming GOP House members, calling themselves the ‘Freedom Force,’ are trying to counter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Squad‘“. Business Insider.
- Parke, Caleb (December 1, 2020). “GOP Congresswoman-elect on forming ‘Freedom Force’: Left is ‘totally out of line’ with mainstream”. Fox News.
- Noor, Poppy (November 30, 2020). “The ‘Freedom Force’: Republican group takes on the Squad and ‘evil’ socialism”. The Guardian.
- Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). “The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results”. New York Times.
- Vandenack, Tim (January 7, 2021). “Utah delegation splits on controversial objections to presidential vote totals”. Standard-Examiner.
- Romboy, Dennis (March 10, 2021). “Sen. Mike Lee says ‘devil himself’ wrote Democrats’ election reform plan”. Deseret News. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
- “Congressman Owens Appointed to Education and Labor, House Judiciary Committees | Representative Burgess Owens”. owens.house.gov. January 25, 2021. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
- “Member List”. Republican Study Committee. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
- “3 GOP candidates concede 4th District primary race to Burgess Owens”. KSL.
- Segers, Grace (June 19, 2019). “House committee confronts the “inheritance of slavery” in panel on reparations”. CBS News. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
- “For Burgess Owens, his political journey began in an NFL locker room”. SI.com. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Roche, Lisa Riley (November 6, 2019). “Former NFL player Burgess Owens gets in 4th Congressional District race”. Deseret News. Retrieved June 30, 2020.
- Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). “The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
- “4th District Republicans debate economy, COVID-19 ahead of June primary election”. UtahPolicy.com. June 1, 2020.
- “Analysis: Burgess Owens flip-flops on support for Obamacare repeal”. Salt Lake Tribune.
- “Health care, racism divide Rep. Ben McAdams, Burgess Owens in only debate”. Deseret News. October 12, 2020.
- “Ben McAdams and Burgess Owens Spar on Healthcare Plans In 4th Congressional District Debate”. KUER.
- “Burgess”. The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Conklin, Audrey (August 26, 2020). “RNC speakers: What to know about Burgess Owens”. Fox News. Retrieved August 30, 2020.
- Raftery, Kay (June 17, 1997). “Pro Football Players Share Their Mormon Faith Ty Detmer, Burgess Owens And Vai Sikahema Told A Packed Sanctuary Of The Role Of Religion In Their Lives”. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- “LDS Afro-American Symposium”. Ensign. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. August 1988. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN