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Florida Rep. Ted Deutch to leave Congress, run Jewish advocacy group

Position as CEO of American Jewish Committee begins Oct. 1

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., leaves a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol in January 2018.
Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., leaves a Democratic caucus meeting in the Capitol in January 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch of Florida said Monday he will leave Congress later this year to become CEO of the American Jewish Committee rather than seek reelection in November.

“In my seven terms in Congress, I have worked hard and tried to find common ground. I’m proud of my work to make our communities safer from gun violence, strengthen Social Security and protect our most vulnerable seniors, and ensure Holocaust survivors can live in dignity,” Deutch said in a statement. 

He said he would serve “until Congress recesses for the next election,” which is currently set for Sept. 30. The AJC, a global Jewish advocacy group, said in a statement he would take over on Oct. 1.

First elected in a special election in 2010, Deutch is the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism. He also sits on the House Judiciary Committee. He is the fourth House committee chair to announce his retirement after this Congress and the 31st House Democrat not to seek reelection.

Deutch represents Broward and Palm Beach counties, which includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a 2018 mass shooting. While Deutch had previously supported gun control policies, the shooting greatly affected him. 

“I have tried every day since to be there for their families and to help them honor the memories of their loved ones in all the ways they are working to make our schools and community safer,” Deutch said.

In a November 2019 interview with CQ Roll Call, Deutch said he’d given speeches about how other lawmakers “shouldn’t have to have a mass shooting take place in your congressional district for you to care about gun violence and want to do something to stop it.”

​​“But when it does, as it did at Stoneman Douglas in my district, it just becomes intensely personal and the issue is so personal to me,” he said at the time.

In his retirement statement, Deutch also noted his foreign policy work in the Middle East and efforts to combat antisemitism, including as the founding co-chair of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism. “For me, this foreign policy work has been a natural continuation of my deep ties to the American Jewish community and my long-standing advocacy on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he said. 

In 2019, Deutch became chairman of the bipartisan ethics committee in a job that can involve investigating alleged transgressions by colleagues. It is not typically a popular role among members, but Deutch took the job seriously and in a 2019 interview said he was “proud” of the work the committee does.

More recently, the panel has been tasked with adjudicating appeals when members were fined for not wearing masks on the House floor. It also ruled on lawmaker appeals of fines for circumventing magnetometers at the entrance to the chamber.

The committee in September announced it was investigating four members: Democrat Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Republicans Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia, and Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota. Hagedorn died this month. 

Deutch has also made campaign finance a pet issue. Since 2014, he has introduced a constitutional amendment in every Congress aimed at overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which held that corporations have a constitutional right to free speech.

His proposal would codify in the Constitution the right of Congress and states to regulate and set limits on campaign spending. “Years after the Citizens United decision, election spending has exploded into billion dollar races that corrupt our elections by drowning out the voices of American voters,” he said in a statement when the Senate counterpart to his measure was introduced in August 2019.

Florida is the largest state that still has not yet completed mapping its congressional districts, as the process has dragged on for months in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. Much of the delay is due to fights over the future of Democratic Rep. Al Lawson‘s Tallahassee area district, as GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed to eliminate the historically Black seat. In draft maps under consideration, Deutch’s Boca Raton-centered seat is set to lose parts of Fort Lauderdale and its western suburbs.

Chris Marquette and Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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