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William Proxmire

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Senator William Proxmire

William Proxmire (born November 11, 1915) was a member of the Democratic Party who served in the United States Senate for the state of Wisconsin from 1957 to 1989. He graduated from Yale University in 1938, Harvard Business School in 1940, and Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1948. During World War II he served as a member of the Military Intelligence Service.

Proxmire served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1951 to 1952 and was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Wisconsin in 1952, 1954 and 1956. Senator Proxmire was elected to fill the remainder of the term vacated due to the death of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy in 1957. Senator Proxmire served as the Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs from 1975 to 1981 and again from 1987 to 1989.

In his last two Senate campaigns of 1976 and 1982, Proxmire refused to take any campaign contributions, and spent on each less than $200 out of his own pocket - to cover the expenses related to filing for re-election.

Proxmire was famous for issuing his Golden Fleece Awards identifying wasteful government spending between 1975 and 1988. Proxmire had an unfortunate tendency to issue his awards to basic science projects that led to important breakthroughs, such as the Aspen Movie Map. He was heavily criticized for this by journalist Stewart Brand, but Proxmire later apologized for several of those, including SETI.

From 1967 till 1986 he gave daily speeches noting the necessity of ratifying The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. After giving this speech every day for 19 years, resulting in 3211 speeches, the convention was ratified by the U.S.

Preceded by:
Joseph R. McCarthy
U.S. Senators from Wisconsin Succeeded by:
Herbert H. Kohl
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