Who is Kirsten Gillibrand? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate
Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to www.politifact.com/2020/
It was on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for president, saying she has "the compassion, the courage, and the fearless determination" to get things done.
"I’m going to run for president of the United States because, as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own," the Democratic Senator from New York said in January.
Under her campaign’s "Brave Wins" mantra, Gillibrand pitches herself as a candidate willing to "stand up for what’s right and repair what’s been broken." Gillibrand says that health care should be a right and not a privilege, that Americans should have better public schools, and anyone who wants to work hard enough should have the ability to transition into the middle class.
Gillibrand has been a prominent supporter of the "Me Too" movement against sexual harrassment and sexual assault. As a senator, she’s introduced legislation to change the military’s handling and prosecutions of sexual assault cases. In late 2017, Gillibrand called for the resignation of then-Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota amid sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Gillibrand also has had to defend her office’s own handling of a sexual harassment allegation. A former aide to Gillibrand resigned in 2018 in protest of the office’s handling of a sexual harassment complaint against another staffer, Politico reported. Gillibrand argued that the complaint was investigated and taken seriously. The accused staffer was eventually fired in 2019.
Gillibrand has spoken out against the Trump administration’s "zero-tolerance" policy that led to the separation of immigrant families. As president, Gillibrand says she would not fund "for-profit prisons" for immigrants and "wouldn’t use the detention system at all."
Name: Kirsten Gillibrand
Current occupation: U.S. Senator for New York; serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services; Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; and Aging.
Party: Democratic Party
Federal offices: U.S. Representative for New York’s 20th Congressional District, 2007-2009; Appointed U.S. Senator in 2009 to fill Hillary Clinton’s vacated seat as Clinton became U.S. Secretary of State for the Obama administration. Gillibrand won a special election in 2010 to keep her Senate seat; she won re-elections in 2012 and 2018.
Key votes: Prides herself on consistently voting against President Donald Trump’s nominees, including those nominated for Cabinet-level positions; voted against the Republican-led 2017 bill to change tax laws, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; led efforts to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy.
State and local offices: None
Private sector work: Attorney
Books authored: Off the Sidelines (2014); Bold & Brave (2018)
Education: Graduated from Dartmouth College in 1988 and from UCLA School of Law in 1991
Birth date: Dec. 9, 1966
Personal life: Married to Jonathan Gillibrand; two sons, Theo and Henry.
Religion: Roman Catholic
Top issues: Supports Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, federal legalization of marijuana, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the United States. Gillibrand also advocates for reforms in the handling and prosecution of sexual assault cases in the military, calling for greater accountability.
Major donors: Gillibrand’s campaign says she does not accept contributions from federal lobbyists, corporate and/or trade association political action committees, or for profit business entities.
Miscellaneous: During the Clinton administration, Gillibrand served as Special Counsel to then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo. Gillibrand was also a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
Campaign website: https://kirstengillibrand.com/
This report will be updated as the campaign continues.