Joel Hefley

Joel Maurice Hefley is a U.S. Republican politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives representing the 5th Congressional District of Colorado from 1987 to 2007. His wife, Dr. Lynn Hefley, is, like him, a former member of the Colorado State House of Representatives. They have three daughters.

He was born in Ardmore, the seat of Carter County in southeastern Oklahoma, earned his B.A. at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, and his M.A. at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He worked as a management consultant and then as executive director of the Colorado Community Planning and Research Council, a nonprofit organization. He was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives for one term in 1977–78. Hefley was subsequently elected to the Colorado Senate before entering the U.S. House of Representatives.

He served as chairman of the House Ethics Committee until 2005. His tenure propelled him from being “among the most obscure members” in the House to gaining national attention, when the Committee formally admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay three times; Hefley also handled the expulsion case of James Traficant, and oversaw the investigation of Alan Mollohan. Because Hefley had served three terms as chairman, he was term limited from serving as chairman in the 109th Congress.

When the new Congress opened in January 2005, House Republicans pushed through new rules curtailing the ways ethics investigations can be launched. While Hefley voted for the rules, he criticized the procedure, “saying he thought the changes were a mistake since they were done without bipartisan discussion.” Within a month, Rep. Doc Hastings was chosen as Hefley’s replacement due to Hefley’s chairmanship expiring.

On February 16, 2006, Hefley ended speculation as to whether he would seek re-election in 2006, instead retiring after 10 terms in Congress, despite pledging in 1986 that he would not serve longer than three terms (6 years.)