Tom Cole – OK4

Tom Cole


Current Position: US Representative for OK 4th District since 2003
Affiliation: Republican
Former Position(s): Secretary of State of Oklahoma from 1996 – 1999

Other Positions:  
Vice Ranking Member – Committee on Appropriations
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Ranking      Ranking Member, Agencies Committee on Rules

Featured Quote: 
I’m struck by Cuban protestors celebrating U.S. freedoms while many Americans turn their backs on our own flag. As the brightest beacon for freedom & opportunity worldwide, the U.S. must stand with them in their fight for democracy. #SOSCuba

Featured Video: 
‘They are only dividing us further:’ Oklahoma Congressman Tom Cole speaks against impeachment


Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Tom Cole speak at banquet
KSWO, Alex Rosa-FigueroaSeptember 2, 2021

LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – One of Oklahoma’s congressional representatives spoke at the 10th Annual FIRES Chapter AUSA Banquet on Sept. 2.

The event recognizes and honors the men and women who support Fort Sill and the post’s efforts.

In addition, the event honored U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Tom Cole, for their years of dedication to the Oklahoma service members and the military.

Cole was a guest speaker for tonight’s banquet, and praised the cooperative nature of the Lawton-Fort Sill community, even in the most trying of times.



Tom Cole 1

Source: Government page

dentified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Tom Cole is currently serving in his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the outset of his service in Congress, Cole was named one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call. In 2016, he was recognized by Newsmax as the “hardest working member in Congress.” He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2017.

Cole is recognized as a tireless advocate for taxpayers and small businesses, supporter of a strong national defense and leader in promoting biomedical research. He is considered the foremost expert in the House on issues related to Native Americans and tribal governments.

Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where he is currently Vice Ranking Member of the full committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (LHHS). While serving as LHHS Chairman during the 115th Congress, Cole shepherded completion of the subcommittee’s annual funding bill and participated in the bicameral conference committee that negotiated the final product for fiscal year 2019. When it was signed into law in September 2018, it marked the first time in 22 years that the bill was completed in full and on time.

Cole was appointed to the House Rules Committee in 2013 and has remained on the panel since then. He currently serves as Ranking Member, the top Republican leadership position on the committee. Cole also serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference and sits on the House Republican Steering Committee.

Cole has a significant background of service to his home state of Oklahoma. He has served as the State Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, District Director to former Congressman Mickey Edwards, a member of the Oklahoma State Senate and as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State. In this capacity, he served as former Governor Frank Keating’s chief legislative strategist and liaison to the state’s federal delegation. Keating tapped Cole to lead Oklahoma’s successful effort to secure federal funds to assist in the rebuilding of Oklahoma City in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995.

Cole is widely regarded as one of the GOP’s top political strategists. He served as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in the 1992 cycle. He also served as Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee during the historic 2000 cycle in which Republicans won the presidency, the Senate and the House for the first time in 48 years. In the 2008 cycle, Cole served as Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Cole is a founding partner and past president of CHS & Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting and survey research firm based in Oklahoma City. The firm has been named one of the top 20 in its field and has dozens of past and current clients scattered across the country.

A former college instructor in history and politics, Cole holds a B.A. from Grinnell College, an M.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. Cole has been a Thomas Watson Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of London. Cole has also received honorary degrees from Randall University (formerly Hillsdale Bible College) in Moore, Oklahoma City University and Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He previously served for six years on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents.

Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is one of only five Native Americans currently serving in Congress. Since 2009, he has served as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. The National Congress of American Indians has recognized Cole’s distinguished service with the Congressional Leadership award on three different occasions (2007, 2011 and 2017), more than any other Member of Congress in the history of the organization. He was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Cole’s late mother, Helen, was also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.

Tom and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma.

Voting Record

Votes on Bills


Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus
Aerospace Caucus
Air Force Caucus
Air Mobility Caucus
Apprenticeship Caucus
Army Caucus
Baltic Caucus
Bourbon Caucus
Career & Technical Education Caucus
Caucus of the Humane Bond
Congressional ALS Caucus
Congressional Battlefield Caucus
Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations and Turkish Americans
Congressional Coalition on Adoption
Congressional Friends of Denmark Caucus
Congressional Friends of Swedish Caucus
Congressional History Caucus
Congressional Multible Sclerosis Caucus
Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus
Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus
Congressional TRIO Caucus
Conservative Opportunity Society
Depot Caucus
Friends of Australia Caucus
General Aviation Caucus
House Energy Action Team
Invisible Wounds Caucus (Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force)
Joint Strike Fighter Caucus
Long Range Bomber Caucus
National Gallery of Art Caucus
National Guard and Reserve Caucus
National Service Caucus
Native American Caucus, Co-Chair
Natural Gas Caucus
Postal Preservation Caucus
Pre-K Caucus, Co-Chair
Pro-life Caucus
Rare Earth Caucus
Republican Study Committee
UAV Caucus
USO Caucus
Youth Challenge Caucus


Washington, DC Office

2207 Rayburn HOB
WashingtonDC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-6165

District Offices




Government Page, Campaign Site, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia


Source: none

Campaign Finance

Open Secrets – We Follow the Money

Voting Record

VoteSmart – Key Votes & Ratings



Wikipedia Entry

Thomas Jeffery Cole (born April 28, 1949) is the U.S. representative for Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party and serves as Deputy Minority Whip. The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) from 2006 to 2008, he was, during his tenure, the fourth-ranking Republican leader in the House.

A member of the Chickasaw Nation, Cole is one of four Native Americans in Congress who are enrolled tribal members. The others are Markwayne Mullin, also of Oklahoma (Cherokee), Yvette Herrell[1] of New Mexico (also Cherokee), and Sharice Davids of Kansas (of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin). In 2022, Cole became the longest-serving Native American in the history of Congress.[2][3]

Early life, education, and academic career

Cole was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, the son of John D. Cole and Helen Te Ata (née Gale), who was the first Native American elected to the Oklahoma Senate.[3][4] They returned to Oklahoma, where family on both sides lived. His ancestors had been in the territory for five generations, and he was raised in Moore, halfway between Oklahoma City and Norman.

Cole graduated from Grinnell College in 1971 with a B.A. in history. His postgraduate degrees include an M.A. from Yale University (1974) and a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma (1984), both in British history. Cole’s Ph.D. thesis was Life and Labor in the Isle of Dogs: The Origins and Evolution of an East London Working-Class Community, 1800–1980. He did research abroad as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow and was a Fulbright Fellow (1977–78) at the University of London. He served as an assistant professor in history and politics in college before entering politics and winning political office.[citation needed]

Early political career

Following his mother, who served as a state representative and senator, Cole was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1988, serving until 1991. He chaired the Oklahoma Republican Party for much of the 1980s. He resigned from the state senate mid-term to accept an appointment as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. From 1995 to 1999, he served as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State, appointed by Governor Frank Keating. He assisted with the recovery efforts after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Building on his involvement in national politics, Cole resigned from Keating’s administration when asked to become chief of staff to the Republican National Committee.[5][6] In 2006 he was elected chair of the RNC.

Cole spent two years working as a paid consultant for the United States Chamber of Commerce, but his primary effort in politics was as a political consultant for candidates. Along with partners Sharon Hargrave Caldwell and Deby Snodgrass, his firm (Cole, Hargrave, Snodgrass and Associates) played a large part in strengthening the Republican Party in Oklahoma. He backed a number of candidates who were elected to office during the Republican Revolution of 1994, when it gained dominance in the state. Among their clients have been Keating, J.C. Watts, Tom Coburn, Frank Lucas, Mary Fallin, Wes Watkins, Steve Largent, Chip Pickering, and Linda Lingle.

U.S. House of Representatives

Cole shaking hands with President Donald Trump in February 2020


During his initial campaign for the House of Representatives in 2002, Cole received the endorsement of Watts, the popular outgoing congressman. This helped him win the general election over Democratic nominee and former Oklahoma State Senator Darryl Roberts, with 53.8% of the vote to Roberts’s 46.1%. Cole has won at least 63% of the vote in each of his eight reelection campaigns, and he ran unopposed in 2010.


Following the 2006 election cycle, the members of the House Republican Conference elected Cole to the post of NRCC Chairman, placing him in charge of national efforts to assist Republican candidates for Congress.

Cole established a solidly conservative voting record during his nine years in the House. He has consistently voted anti-abortion and for gun rights. He also has pro-business positions, supporting free trade, the military, veterans, and educating other congressmen on American Indian issues. He favors loosening immigration restrictions and imposing stricter limits on campaign funds. In 2012, he sponsored H.R. 5912, which would prohibit public funds from being used for political party conventions. This legislation passed the House in September but awaits action by the Senate.[7] During his tenure, Cole has been a leading voice for strengthening protections for Native American women under the Violence Against Women Act.[3]

In June 2013, after another failure of the United States farm bill in Congress, Cole called the failure inexcusable. His district in Oklahoma includes some of the state’s farming communities, and if the Farm Bill passed, it would have saved $40 billion over a ten-year period.[8]

As chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Cole was responsible for introducing the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 4487; 113th Congress).[9] The bill would appropriate $3.3 billion to the legislative branch for FY 2015, about the same amount it received in FY 2014.[10] According to Cole, the bill meets its goals “in both an effective and efficient manner, and has done so in a genuinely bipartisan, inclusive and deliberative fashion.”[11]

In 2013, Cole introduced the Home School Equity Act for Tax Relief. The bill would allow some homeschool parents to take tax credits for purchasing classroom materials.[12]

Cole expressed his intention in 2018 to push his Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act into the spending bill as an omnibus. The bill would “make clear that the National Labor Relations Board has no jurisdiction over businesses owned and operated by an Indian tribe and located on tribal land.”[13]

The Lugar Center ranked Cole the 91st most bipartisan member of the House during the 114th United States Congress.[14]

2016 House Speakership election

In the contest for House Speaker that followed the resignation of John Boehner Cole supported the claims of Paul Ryan:

“Anyone who attacks Paul Ryan as being insufficiently conservative is either woefully misinformed or maliciously destructive…Paul Ryan has played a major role in advancing the conservative cause and creating the Republican House majority. His critics are not true conservatives. They are radical populists who neither understand nor accept the institutions, procedures and traditions that are the basis of constitutional governance.”[15]

Political positions

Cole supported President Donald Trump‘s 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.[16]

In January 2021, Cole voted against the certification of the Electoral College results in the 2020 presidential election.[17] He subsequently voluntarily gave up an honorary degree from Grinnell College.[18] In May 2021, Cole voted against the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.[19]


In June 2021, Cole was one of 49 House Republicans to vote to repeal the AUMF against Iraq.[20][21]

Committee memberships

Caucus Membership

Electoral history

Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district: Results 2002–2020[23]
YearRepublicanVotesPctDemocratVotesPct3rd PartyPartyVotesPct
2002Tom Cole106,45253.83%Darryl Roberts91,32246.17%
2004Tom Cole198,98577.77%(no candidate)Charlene K. BradshawIndependent56,86922.23%
2006Tom Cole118,26664.61%Hal Spake64,77535.39%
2008Tom Cole180,08066.02%Blake Cummings79,67429.21%David E. JoyceIndependent13,0274.78%
2010*Tom Cole32,58977.26%(no candidate)RJ HarrisRepublican9,59322.74%
2012Tom Cole176,56167.89%Donna Marie Bebo71,15527.60%RJ HarrisIndependent11,7254.51%
2014Tom Cole117,72170.80%Bert Smith40,99824.66%Dennis B. JohnsonIndependent7,5494.54%
2016Tom Cole203,94269.64%Christina Owen76,30826.08%Sevier WhiteLibertarian12,5484.28%
2018Tom Cole149,12763.07%Mary Brannon78,02233.00%Ruby PetersIndependent9,3103.94%
2020Tom Cole213,09667.80%Mary Brannon90,45928.80%Bob WhiteLibertarian10,8033.40%
  • In 2010, no Democrat or independent candidate filed to run in OK-4. The results printed here are from the Republican primary, where the election was decided.

Personal life

Cole and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Mason. He is a member of the United Methodist Church and lives in Moore.

Cole has said, “I was raised to think of myself as Native American and, most importantly, as Chickasaw.”[24] Cole has said that a great-aunt of his was the Native American storyteller Te Ata.[24] Describing his heritage, he said his “mother Helen Cole[25] was…extraordinarily proud of [their] Native American history and was, frankly, the first Native American woman ever elected to state senate in Oklahoma.”[24]

Cole sits on the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents and the National Fulbright Association.[26] Cole is featured in the play Sliver of a Full Moon by Mary Kathryn Nagle for his role in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.[27]

See also


  1. ^ New Mexico becomes first state to elect all women of color to the House of Representatives
  2. ^ Press Pool. “Cole becomes longest serving Native American in the House, proud of his record as a champion for Indian Country”.
  3. ^ a b c “Cole becomes longest-serving Native American in history”. The Oklahoman. April 23, 2022.
  4. ^ “cole”. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13. Retrieved 2015-10-27.
  5. ^ Official Lands GOP Post Keating to Name New Secretary of State
  6. ^ RNC picks new chief of staff
  7. ^ “H.R. 5912: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit the use of public funds for political party conventions”. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  8. ^ Casteel, Chris (June 21, 2013). “Oklahoma Reps. Tom Cole, Jim Bridenstine Disagree on Farm Bill”. NewsOK. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  9. ^ “H.R. 4487 – All Actions”. United States Congress. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  10. ^ Marcos, Cristina (25 April 2014). “Next week:Appropriations season begins”. The Hill. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  11. ^ Hess, Hannah (2 April 2014). “Legislative Branch Bill Keeps House Spending in Check”. Roll Call. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  12. ^ Jim East, “Legislation would give home school families access to education tax deduction” Archived 2013-08-28 at, The Ripon Advance, August 28, 2013. (Retrieved August 28, 2013)
  13. ^ Wong, Scott. “Five things lawmakers want attached to the $1 trillion funding bill”. The Hill. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  14. ^ The Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index (PDF), The Lugar Center, March 7, 2016, retrieved April 30, 2017
  15. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (12 October 2015). “Latest Unease on Right – Is Ryan Too Far to the Left?”. New York Times. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  16. ^ Blake, Aaron (29 January 2017). “Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump’s travel ban; here’s where the rest stand”. Denver Post. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  17. ^ ‘I’m just furious’: Relations in Congress crack after attack”. POLITICO. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  18. ^ Choi, Joseph (13 January 2021). “GOP lawmaker gives up honorary college degree in wake of Electoral College vote”. TheHill. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  19. ^ Gorman, Reese (19 May 2021). “Cole votes against bipartisan Jan. 6 Commission”. The Norman Transcript. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  20. ^ “House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq War authorization”. NBC News.
  21. ^[bare URL]
  22. ^ “Member List”. Republican Study Committee. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  23. ^ “Election Statistics”. Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
  24. ^ a b c Native American Heritage Month Keynote Address (Speech). Library of Congress. 2007-11-06. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
  25. ^ Helen Cole Archived 2010-05-31 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ “Tom Cole Full Biography”. Tom Cole U.S. Congressman. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  27. ^ “sliver of a full moon”. sliver of a full moon. Retrieved 2016-12-12.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by

Secretary of State of Oklahoma
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma’s 4th congressional district

Preceded by

Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee
Party political offices
Preceded by

Chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee
Succeeded by

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by


Source: Government page


  • Committee on Appropriations (Vice Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Defense
    • Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
  • Committee on the Budget
  • Committee on Rules (Ranking Member)


sponsoring and co-sponsoring



There are no better stewards of the land than those whose livelihood depends on that land. In Congress, I work closely with my colleagues to ensure that our farmers and ranchers are not needlessly regulated and that safety nets, such as crop insurance, remain in place to protect against the volatile effects of drought, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Defense and National Security

Congress has no greater responsibility than to provide our military with the training and resources needed to confront the mounting security challenges and threats around the world. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I am a champion for a strong national defense and returning fiscal discipline to the Pentagon. I will continue to support a strong military well-equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.


I have consistently supported legislation and policies to get the nation’s long-term fiscal house in order by balancing the budget and reforming entitlements, so we can eventually pay down our debt.


As a former educator, I understand how important it is for our children to have access to a quality education. I am committed to ensuring parents and teachers have the tools and resources necessary to provide the best possible educational opportunities for our children.


I support an all-of-the-above energy strategy that encourages domestic production, reduces our dependency on foreign oil and explores alternative energy solutions.

Financial Services

Financial institutions such as community banks and credit unions play a critical role in our local economy. Local lending institutions can more effectively help customers because of their detailed knowledge of customers and close ties to the community. This presence helps businesses buy new equipment, add to the workforce and improve products and services to the local economy.

Foreign Affairs

While much of the power to conduct foreign affairs is granted to the president by the U.S. Constitution, Congress can and should still shape foreign policy and play a vital role in ensuring the world remains a safe place and that our citizens are protected from harm.


Nearly a decade since a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is evident that Obamacare failed to live up to its many promises, particularly those related to affordability of and access to care.


Just as we are a nation of immigrants, America is also a nation of laws, and those laws must be obeyed and enforced. I believe that securing our borders and stopping the flood of illegal immigrants must be a top priority for our nation.


As penned in the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers founded America with the strong belief that individuals are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Among those is the right to life, which influences my commitment to protecting the most vulnerable, including the unborn.

Natural Resources

We must maintain programs to manage our resources wisely, while working with landowners to ensure that their property rights are protected.

Science and Technology

The health and longevity of Oklahoma’s economy depends in large part on the acceleration of scientific and technological innovations. Maintaining Oklahoma’s leadership in these fields requires a concerted effort to ensure ongoing investments in technology, education and science.

Second Amendment

As one of the founding principles of our nation, the right to bear arms must be fully upheld, and I am committed to protecting the rights of responsible gun owners who safely use guns for hunting and protection. And in Oklahoma, we know that guns are tools to be used responsibly.

Small Business

When I travel across the Fourth District of Oklahoma, I am always inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude of our own small businesses. Whether as an employee or owner, Americans depend greatly on small business success.

Social Security

I am committed to addressing the challenges facing Social Security, sustaining and protecting the program for current beneficiaries and future retirees. No program does more to ensure that every American can have a decent retirement.


America is a global leader in business and innovation, yet for many years, our tax code was outdated. Prior to 2017, the last major update of our tax code was in 1986. The tax system – a compilation of $1.6 trillion in annual deductions, credits, exclusions, exemptions and special rates – was enormously complex and created confusion, distortions in economic incentives and hindered America’s economic competitiveness to the detriment of Americans’ opportunities.


A safe, efficient and well-maintained infrastructure is not only critical to moving people and products, but it strengthens our nation’s economy. To keep our economy moving, I believe we must invest in and modernize the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and waterways.

Tribal Relations

As an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, I am very proud of my heritage and the tremendous accomplishments of tribes in Oklahoma and across our country. The U.S. Constitution and the federal government recognize that Native American tribes are sovereign entities with separate governments and rights that should be honored and respected.

Veterans & Military Retirees

Our veterans, who have served during war and peace, have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our freedoms. They are defenders of democracy and have ensured all Americans can continue to enjoy freedom and peace.


OnAir membership is required. The lead Moderator for the discussions is James Lillard. We encourage civil, honest, and safe discourse. See Terms of Service for curation guidelines.

This is an open discussion on the contents of this post.

Home Forums Open Discussion

Viewing 0 reply threads
Viewing 0 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Skip to toolbar