Morris Jackson Brooks Jr (born April 29, 1954 in Charleston, South Carolina) is an attorney, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Alabama's 5th Congressional District, and a candidate in the 2022 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat left open by the retirement of Richard Shelby.
Brooks is the son of Morris and Betty Noland Brooks. He was born in South Carolina, but the family moved to Huntsville when he was 9 years old. His father was an electrical engineer at Redstone Arsenal's Meteorology Center and mother taught economics and government at Lee High School. Morris Jr graduated from Grissom High School in 1972 and studies political science and economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He married Martha Jenkins, whom he met at Duke, in 1976. He completed a juris doctorate at the University of Alabama School of Law in 1978. He followed his wife's faith by joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
After a short time working for the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney's Office he moved back to Huntsville to clerk for circuit court Judge John David Snodgrass. He ran successfully for the District 18 seat, representing northwest Alabama, in the Alabama House of Representatives in 1982. He held that seat through three more elections until he was appointed to succeed Robert Cramer as Madison County District Attorney in 1991. He lost the office to Democrat Tim Morgan in the 1992 election. In 1993 he was hired as counsel to Leo & Associates, a firm specializing in commercial litigation, and was made a partner in the firm of Leo & Brooks.
In 1995 Brooks was hired as a special assistant in Attorney General of Alabama Jeff Sessions' office. He continued in that role under Attorney General Bill Pryor until 2002. Meanwhile he was elected to the Madison County Commission in 1996 and re-elected in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2004 Martha Brooks earned a teaching degree at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She worked as a math teacher, ultimately retiring from Whitesburg Middle School in Huntsville.
In the 2006 Republican Primary Brooks ran for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama, finishing behind Luther Strange and George Wallace Jr. In the 2010 Republican Primary he successfully challenged incumbent Parker Griffith (who had switched from the Democratic Party) and activist Les Phillip for the Republican nomination for the 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. During the primary election campaign Brooks was lauded as a "Young Gun" by the Republican National Committee. He edged Democrat Steve Raby by a 58%-42% margin.
Brooks easily survived Griffith's primary challenge in 2012 and sailed to a 65%-35% victory over Democratic candidate Charlie Holley in the general election. In the 2014 election, with no Democratic candidate on the ballot, Brooks was easily re-elected over Republican challenger Jerry Hill and independent candidate Mark Bray. In 2016 he was challenged by Democrat Will Boyd Jr, but won a fourth term by a 67%-33% margin. During the 2016 campaign Brooks chaired the Alabama campaign committee for Ted Cruz for President. He also accused Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of treason for potentially exposing state secrets held on an unsecured personal server.
Brooks qualified for the 2017 U.S. Senate special election following Jeff Sessions' appointment as Attorney General of the United States. He finished third behind Roy Moore and Luther Strange in the Republican primary. Democrat Doug Jones eventually won the special election following published accusations regarding Moore's behavior as a prosecutor in Etowah County. Brooks endorsed Moore in the general election, attacking the Washington Post for their reporting. In a House speech that year he revealed a prostate cancer diagnosis.
House of Representatives
Brooks has served on the House Committee on Armed Services and its Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems and on Strategic Forces, and on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and its subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. He has been lauded by right-wing and conservative organizations for his opposition to spending bills and his votes in support of Republican policy priorities and nominations. He is a member of the "Freedom Caucus" and the "Congressional Constitution Caucus". He has repeatedly referred to his Democratic colleagues as "socialists". At the same time he defended fellow Republican Jim Jordan, accused of covering up sexual assault when he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.
Brooks has been a consistent critic of the Affordable Care Act, signing pledges to seek its repeal and introducing legislation to defund it. He also announced his opposition to the Republican American Health Care Act of 2017, but ended up voting in favor of it. He has also been active in supporting legislation to reduce legal immigration and expand enforcement actions and penalties targeting illegal immigrants, including mass deportation. He has stated falsely that as many as a million illegal immigrants had voted in presidential elections, and used Birmingham's 2017 Sanctuary City resolution as an example of a type of municipal policy that should punished. Brooks has also voted to end funding for public media.
Brooks has voted in favor of empowering states to decriminalize marijuana, and has supported Republican-led plans to allow private investment with Social Security accounts and to have private insurers manage Medicare. He has pledged not to vote for tax increases, including a pledge not to support climate change legislation which might raise taxes. Brooks speculated about alternate causes of rising sea levels in a hearing of the Science, Space and Technology Committee. His notion that erosion and silt were to blame were countered at the hearing by scientist Philip Duffy and have been roundly rejected by other scientists.
Brooks has generally opposed U.S. military campaigns overseas and foreign aid in general. He has voted in support of Republican-led tax cuts. When Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise was wounded by a gunshot to the leg suffered during a practice for a charity baseball game, Brooks used his belt as a tourniquet to slow the loss of blood. Shortly afterward he introduced a bill to allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the District of Columbia.
Brooks emerged as one of President Trump's loyalist allies in the House of Representatives. He spoke frequently in support of Trump's border security proposals, and for his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump endorsed Brooks in the 2018 election. In March 2019 he quoted from Hitler's Mein Kampf as a response to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on coordination between the Trump campaign and associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, seeking to compare the Democratic Party and the media to Nazism. In October 2019 Brooks declined to sign onto a resolution criticizing Trump's removal of U.S. forces from Syria. Later that month he was part of a group of House Republicans that disrupted an impeachment hearing taking testimony about President Trump's refusal to send Congressionally-approved military support to Ukraine. He criticized the criminal prosecution of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and argued after Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election that mail-in voting was unconstitutional and that the election had been "stolen" from Trump.
Brooks co-signed an amicus brief petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Pennsylvania's electoral votes, for which he was reprimanded by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During December he organized a series of White House meetings between Trump and several Republican legislators to discuss options for overturning the result of the election. He was among the first in Congress to announce that he would object to the certification of electoral votes at a joint session scheduled for January 6, 2022. Trump campaign adviser described Brooks as, "ringleader of the Jan. 6 deal," in a text message to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
That morning, he was the first featured speaker at a "Save America" rally that he helped to organize on Trump's behalf. Wearing body armor, he asked attendees if they were willing to sacrifice their blood, sweat, tears, fortunes and even their lives to, "do what it takes to fight for America," by going "to Capitol Hill" that day and to, "start taking down names and kicking ass." The rally was followed by a large and violent crowd of Trump supporters storming past barriers and guards and into the Capitol building. When the session resumed that evening, Brooks formally objecting to the certification of Nevada's electoral votes, but no other Senator joined him and Biden was duly certified. Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl Racine publicly mulled charging Brooks with inciting a riot. California Representative Eric Swalwell named Brooks in a civil lawsuit for damages resulting from the riot. Brooks has claimed to be immune from civil liability on the basis that his speech was given in his capacity as a federal employee, a claim disputed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately Swalwell's suit was dismissed on first amendment grounds.
Among the Republican candidates seeking Richard Shelby's former Senate seat, Brooks staked an early polling lead with Trump's endorsement. After Mike Durant cut into his lead, Trump rescinded his support. Brooks' immediate reaction was to relate how even after Biden was inaugurated, Trump had demanded that he should use the House of Representatives to 'immediately' remove the President from office and hold a new election.
- Orndorff Troyen, Mary (April 16, 2011) "US Rep. Mo Brooks retracts 'socialist' remark." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (September 9, 2016) "Mo Brooks: Hillary Clinton should be impeached if elected, but Congress lacks political will" The Birmingham News
- Gattis, Paul (March 24, 2017) "Mo Brooks sticks to plan, will vote against GOP health care plan." AL.com
- Seitz-Wald, Alex (July 17, 2017) "GOP Civil War to Fill Jeff Sessions' Senate Seat." NBC News
- Waldman, Scott (May 17, 2018) "Republican lawmaker: Rocks tumbling into ocean causing sea level rise." Science
- Gattis, Paul (May 30, 2018) "Trump endorses Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks for re-election." AL.com
- Hayes, Christal (Marcy 27, 2019) "Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks reads from Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' while bashing Democrats, media." USA Today
- Gattis, Paul (October 23, 2019) "Reps. Mo Brooks, Bradley Byrne at forefront of GOP charge into impeachment room." AL.com
- Gattis, Paul (January 6, 2021) "Mo Brooks: Today patriots start ‘kicking ass’ in fighting vote results." AL.com
- Hsu, Spencer S. (July 6, 2021) "Rep. Mo Brooks says he can’t be sued for inciting Capitol riot because he is a federal employee." The Washington Post
- Bort, Ryan (July 6, 2021) "Rep. Mo Brooks on Incendiary Jan. 6th Speech: Trump Made Me Do It." Rolling Stone
- Chandler, Kimberly & Jill Colvin (March 23, 2022) "After losing endorsement, Alabama representative claims Trump asked him to ‘remove Joe Biden’ from White House." Associated Press
- "Mo Brooks" (April 9, 2022) Wikipedia - accessed April 25, 2022
- Koplowitz, Howard (December 13, 2022) "Mo Brooks reportedly described as ‘ringleader’ of effort to overturn election in Mark Meadows texts." AL.com
- Congressman Mo Brooks official U.S. House website