GREENE WALDHOLTZ, Enid

GREENE WALDHOLTZ, Enid
Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 104th Congress.
1958–

Biography

Enid Greene Waldholtz,1 a rising star in the Utah Republican Party, made her mark quickly in the U.S. House, earning a seat on the prestigious Rules Committee as a freshman and becoming only the second Member of Congress to become a mother while serving.

Enid Greene was born in San Rafael, California, on June 5, 1958, the middle child in a family of five siblings. Her father, Forrest Greene, was a San Francisco stockbroker who held a seat on the Pacific Stock Exchange for four decades. The family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and lived in an affluent neighborhood known as “the avenues.” Enid Greene graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in 1980 and earned a J.D. from Brigham Young University in 1983. After school she worked as a litigator for a law firm. From 1990 to 1992, she served as deputy chief of staff to Utah Governor Norman Bangerter, leaving that position to make a competitive but unsuccessful run for a congressional district that encompassed Salt Lake City and its suburbs against Democrat Karen Shepherd. Greene lost by 51 to 47 percent. Greene then became a corporate counsel for a major high–technology company based in Provo, Utah. In August 1993, she married Republican consultant Joe Waldholtz in a ceremony presided over by Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt. Meanwhile, Waldholtz, whom the Salt Lake media had dubbed the “Mormon Maggie Thatcher,” was preparing to run again for the Salt Lake City seat in the U. S. House.2

In 1994, Waldholtz challenged the incumbent Karen Shepherd in the general election. She ran on a platform that mirrored much of the Republican “Contract with America”: stressing her conservative and family values, supporting anti–abortion measures, and calling for welfare reform and budget reductions. Joe Waldholtz joined the campaign as its treasurer. Enid Waldholtz trailed for much of the race, which also included an independent challenger, Merrill Cook. A late infusion of more than $1.5 million, which she claimed as personal and family money, helped her erase a polling deficit through huge direct–mailing efforts and large blocks of television advertising. On election day, in the most expensive House race in the nation, Enid Waldholtz handily defeated Shepherd by 46 to 34 percent of the vote; Cook finished with 18 percent.3

When Waldholtz took her seat in the 104th Congress (1995–1997), her notoriety in Utah and political contacts in the House (most notably Speaker Newt Gingrich) helped her gain a seat on the powerful Rules Committee, a virtually unheard of assignment for a freshman Member. By one estimate, she was the first Republican freshman since the 1920s to land an assignment on the committee which controlled the flow of legislation to the House Floor. She also made history in March 1995 after announcing that she was pregnant. Republicans threw her a surprise baby shower in the Speaker’s office. In late August 1995, Waldholtz gave birth to a daughter named Elizabeth, becoming the first Republican Congresswoman to become a mother while serving in Congress; Democrat Yvonne Brathwaite Burke gave birth to a daughter, Autumn, in November 1973.4

True to her campaign platform, Waldholtz supported the “Contract with America.” She took to the House Floor to oppose an amendment to an appropriations bill which would have prevented states from refusing to allocate Medicaid funding for abortions in cases of rape and incest. While she did not believe that women should “be forced to base their decision on their ability to pay,” Waldholtz believed that the “use of state funds should be left to the state governments.”5 She defended a constitutional amendment to prevent flag desecration; an outcome that she said had “no alternative” since the Supreme Court had overturned flag protection statutes as infringements of free speech.6

Just 10 months into her term, Congresswoman Waldholtz faced a political firestorm. In November 1995, Joe Waldholtz, under federal investigation for improperly filed campaign reports, disappeared for more than a week. Officials soon apprehended him, charging that he had embezzled millions from his father–in–law, Forrest Greene, about $2 million of which was funneled into Enid Waldholtz’s 1994 campaign in the form of hundreds of faked donations.7 Congresswoman Waldholtz held a five–hour press conference, apologizing to constituents and detailing how her husband had constructed the elaborate scheme without her knowledge.8 The negative publicity, however, convinced her to forgo a re–election bid. She told the press that she had “made some terrible mistakes of misplaced trust, for which I take responsibility” but, she maintained, that she was “absolutely innocent of any intentional wrongdoing.”9 Representative Waldholtz filed for divorce and changed her name back to Greene. In June 1996, Joe Waldholtz pleaded guilty to bank fraud and falsifying campaign spending reports and was sentenced to two years in jail. The Justice Department cleared Enid Greene of any wrongdoing. Greene returned with her daughter to Salt Lake City where, in 1998, she joined a local law firm.

Footnotes

1This essay reflects the Congresswoman’s name at the time of her election and swearing–in. Midway through the 104th Congress, Waldholtz changed her name back to her maiden name, Greene.

2James Brooke, “Congresswoman Faces Increasing Skepticism,” 22 January 1996, New York Times: A10.

3Politics in America, 1996 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Inc., 1995): 1338; “Election Statistics, 1920 to Present,” http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/election.aspx.

4Elaine Louie, “Chronicle,” 2 September 1995, Washington Post: 22.

5Congressional Record, House, 104th Cong., 1st sess. (4 August 1995): 1641.

6Congressional Record, House, 104th Cong., 1st sess. (30 June 1995): 1388.

7Ruth Marcus and Walter Pincus, “Enid Waldholtz: Savvy Politician or Duped Wife? Utah Congresswoman Faces Skepticism in Funding Probe,” 26 November 1995, Washington Post: A1; Tamara Jones, “When Enid Met Joe…After the Honeymoon and the Election, the Waldholtz’s Moved Into a House of Cards,” 18 November 1995, Washington Post: C1.

8Tom Kenworthy, “Rep. Waldholtz Says Her Husband Duped Her; In 5–Hour Session, Utah Lawmaker Tells of Embezzlement, Fraud, Election Law Violations,” 12 December 1995, Washington Post: A1; Walter Pincus and Ruth Marcus, “Waldholtz Campaign Illustrates Critical Role of Money,” 24 December 1995, Washington Post: A6.

9Walter Pincus and Ruth Marcus, “Rep. Waldholtz Won’t Seek Reelection; Utah Republican Cites Investigation into Personal, 1994 Campaign Finance,” 6 March 1996, Washington Post: A3.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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Bibliography / Further Reading

Benson, Lee. Blind Trust: The True Story of Enid Greene and Joe Waldholtz. [Salt Lake City, U.T.]: Agreka Books, 1997.

"Enid Greene Waldholtz" in Women in Congress, 1917-2006. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of History & Preservation, U. S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Printing Office, 2006.

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Committee Assignments

  • House Committee - Rules
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