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Daniel J. Flood

Daniel J. Flood

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Daniel John "Dan" Flood (November 26, 1903 – May 28, 1994) was a flamboyant and long-serving Democratic United States Representative from Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. He was censured for bribery and resigned from the House in 1980.

Early life and career

Daniel J. Flood was born in Hazleton
Hazleton, Pennsylvania
Hazleton is a city in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 25,340 at the 2010 census, an increase of 8.6% from the 2000 census count .-Greater Hazleton:...

 in Northeastern Pennsylvania
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Northeastern Pennsylvania is a geographic region of Pennsylvania that includes the Pocono Mountains, the Endless Mountains and the industrial cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pittston, Hazleton and Carbondale....

. He attended the public schools of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Wilkes-Barre is a city in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, the county seat of Luzerne County. It is at the center of the Wyoming Valley area and is one of the principal cities in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area, which had a population of 563,631 as of the 2010 Census...

, and St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

. He graduated from Syracuse University
Syracuse University
Syracuse University is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York, United States. Its roots can be traced back to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832, which also later founded Genesee College...

 in 1924. He attended Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

 and was graduated from Dickinson School of Law
Dickinson School of Law
Penn State University Dickinson School of Law is the law school of The Pennsylvania State University...

 in Carlisle
Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Carlisle is a borough in and the county seat of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, United States. The name is traditionally pronounced with emphasis on the second syllable. Carlisle is located within the Cumberland Valley, a highly productive agricultural region. As of the 2010 census, the borough...

 in 1929. He was admitted to the bar in 1930 and opened a practice in Wilkes-Barre. He was an attorney for the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation in 1934 and 1935.

Flood studied acting in his early school days, a skill he fancied and often utilized while serving as a member of Congress. Flood sported a signature waxed moustache
A moustache is facial hair grown on the outer surface of the upper lip. It may or may not be accompanied by a type of beard, a facial hair style grown and cropped to cover most of the lower half of the face.-Etymology:...

 from that time throughout his career and had a penchant for white suits. His flamboyant style, dress and speech were often compared to that of a Shakespearean actor. He persuaded his friend James Karen
James Karen
James Karen is an American character actor of Broadway, film and television.-Life and career:Karen was born Jacob Karnofsky in Wilkes-Barre, in northeastern Pennsylvania, the son of Russian-born Jewish immigrants Mae and Joseph H. Karnofsky, a produce dealer. As a young man, Karen was encouraged...

 to begin his acting career, recruiting him into a production at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre
Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre
The Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre is one of the oldest continuously-running community theatre in the United States.Founded in 1922 as the Drama League, Little Theatre was incorporated as a non-profit under the new name in 1929...


Political career

Flood served as the deputy attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and counsel for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is an independent government agency that manages the beverage alcohol industry in Pennsylvania. It is responsible for licensing the possession, sale, storage, transportation, importation, and manufacture of wine, spirits, and malt or brewed beverages in the...

 from 1935 to 1939. He was director of the State Bureau of Public Assistance Disbursements, and executive assistant to the State Treasurer from 1941 to 1944.

United States House of Representatives

Flood made his first run for office in 1942, when he was the Democratic candidate in a special election to replace Congressman J. Harold Flannery
J. Harold Flannery
John Harold Flannery was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.J. Harold Flannery was born in Pittston, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, Pennsylvania, in 1917 and from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in...

 in what was then the 12th District, based in Wilkes-Barre. He narrowly lost to Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Thomas B. Miller
Thomas B. Miller
Thomas Byron Miller was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.-Biography:...

. Flood ran against Miller again in the general election later that year and lost by a wider margin. However, he ran again against Miller in what had now been renumbered the 11th District and won. He was defeated for reelection in 1946 due to a nationwide Republican landslide, but regained his seat in 1948. He was reelected in 1950, only to be swept out by Dwight Eisenhower's massive landslide in 1952, losing to Republican Edward J. Bonin
Edward J. Bonin
Edward John Bonin was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.Edward Bonin was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He served in the United States Navy from 1922 to 1926...

. He was reelected in 1954 in a re-match against Congressman Bonin, and after a close reelection bid in 1956 was reelected 11 more times without serious opposition.

He persuaded Senator John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 to campaign in his home district and was an avid supporter of Kennedy's later Presidency.

Flood used his considerable influence in Congress to transition the economy of his district, which was devastated when the anthracite coal
Anthracite coal
Anthracite is a hard, compact variety of mineral coal that has a high luster...

-mining industry took a severe downturn. While in Congress, Flood was credited with sponsoring the Area Redevelopment Act in 1961 and the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.

Referring to his influence with the Commerce Department
United States Department of Commerce
The United States Department of Commerce is the Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with promoting economic growth. It was originally created as the United States Department of Commerce and Labor on February 14, 1903...

 in April 1964, Flood stated, "Under Secretary of Commerce Martin is going to fly with me to my district tomorrow to help me break ground for the intersection of routes 80
Interstate 80
Interstate 80 is the second-longest Interstate Highway in the United States, following Interstate 90. It is a transcontinental artery running from downtown San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey in the New York City Metropolitan Area...

 and 81
Interstate 81
Interstate 81 is an Interstate Highway in the eastern part of the United States. Its southern terminus is at Interstate 40 in Dandridge, Tennessee; its northern terminus is on Wellesley Island at the Canadian border, where the Thousand Islands Bridge connects it to Highway 401, the main freeway...

. These are the two major intercontinental highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s, and it's no coincidence that they intersect in my district. This is the only place in the country where they do intersect. Martin would not be doing this with me if it weren't for our long association."

He is also known for his efforts in rebuilding his district in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes
Hurricane Agnes
Hurricane Agnes was the first tropical storm and first hurricane of the 1972 Atlantic hurricane season. A rare June hurricane, it made landfall on the Florida Panhandle before moving northeastward and ravaging the Mid-Atlantic region as a tropical storm...

. When the tropical storm remnants of Hurricane Agnes overwhelmed the Susquehanna River
Susquehanna River
The Susquehanna River is a river located in the northeastern United States. At long, it is the longest river on the American east coast that drains into the Atlantic Ocean, and with its watershed it is the 16th largest river in the United States, and the longest river in the continental United...

 watershed in 1972, causing major flooding all along the river, one of the hardest-hit locations was Wilkes-Barre's business and residential areas. Flood, subcommittee chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
United States House Committee on Appropriations
The Committee on Appropriations is a committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States...

, with years of clout accumulated while in office, was credited with limiting federal red tape in what was then the most-damaging hurricane ever recorded in the U.S. From air and boat rescue, to bringing President Richard M. Nixon in to survey flood damage, and establishing a federal response - all were credited to Flood. "It took a Flood to tame a flood" was his catchphrase.

In the neighboring city of Scranton, however, he was occasionally accused of favoring Wilkes-Barre, and he is often cited as the source of the naming of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is an airport located in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania, near the border of Luzerne County and Lackawanna County, halfway between the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton...

 (with Wilkes-Barre first, despite being the smaller of the two cities and being second alphabetically.)

Censure and resignation

During the 96th United States Congress
96th United States Congress
The Ninety-sixth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, DC from January 3, 1979 to January 3, 1981, during the last two years...

, Flood was censured for bribery. The allegations led to his resignation on January 31, 1980. He died in Wilkes-Barre in 1994.


Flood is regarded as a folk hero in northeastern Pennsylvania. He is remembered by his constituency for his weekly televised messages from Washington, which were a staple of Sunday morning television for years, and for his knack of being around for virtually any event that took place in his district.

Daniel J. Flood Elementary School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District is named in his honor.

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is the governmental agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania responsible for the collection, conservation and interpretation of Pennsylvania's historic heritage...

 honored Flood with a plaque as part of the Historical Marker Program. Located on Wilkes-Barre's Public Square, in the center of the city, it reads:

Further reading

  • William C. Kashatus. Dapper Dan Flood: The Controversial Life of a Congressional Power Broker (Penn State University Press; 2010) 350 pages; scholarly biography

External links