John J. Rhodes III

Congressman and lobbyist John J. "Jay" Rhodes III, 67, an Arizona Republican who served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, died Jan. 20, 2011, at the VA Medical Center in Washington of injuries suffered in a single-car accident in Mesa in October 2010.


Rhodes was a native of Mesa. He graduated in 1961 from the Landon School in Bethesda. He was a 1965 graduate of Yale University and a 1968 graduate of The University of Arizona College of Law.


After law school, he served two years in the Army, doing intelligence work in Vietnam. He entered Arizona politics as a young man, serving as a Republican district chairman and president of the Mesa Board of Education.


Jay's father, John J. Rhodes Jr., served 30 years in the U.S. House, where he became minority leader. He retired from the House in 1983, and John McCain held the seat for two terms before he launched a career in the U.S. Senate.


Jay, who called himself a "traditional Goldwater Republican," in a reference to the conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, was elected to his father's old seat in 1986. The district included parts of Phoenix as well as the cities of Mesa and Tempe.


A lawyer who specialized in water rights, Jay served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.


His involvement in the House banking scandal – he admitted to 32 overdrafts in the informal House bank – in part left him vulnerable when he sought reelection in 1992. He defeated a challenger in the Republican primary but lost to Democrat Sam Coppersmith in the general election.


Jay became a lawyer and lobbyist in the Washington office of the law firm Hunton and Williams. His primary concerns were natural resource projects in the Lower Colorado River Basin.


Jay, who had homes in Washington and Mesa, was a past president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. As a member of the organization, he participated in election monitoring in Afghanistan and in Ukraine in recent years.

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