A Bipartisan View from Congress with Representative Gil Gutknecht (R) and Representative Mike Kopetski (D)
It is with great pleasure that the Bangor Foreign Policy Forum welcomes former Representatives Gil Gutknecht (Republican) and Mike Kopetski (Democrat) to present their views of where the US stands in the World today and how it should handle the myriad of challenges that it faces. Both representatives have extensive governmental and business experience and bring a wide range of experiences to our presentation. There will be ample time for questions from the audience. Please join us for this unique event which is co-sponsored with the Cohen Institute for Leadership & Democracy.
About the Speakers:
Former Congressman Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota served 12 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives before serving 12 years in the U.S. House. He served as Vice Chair of the House Science Committee where he was involved with federal research into new technologies. He also served as Chairman of an Ag Subcommittee that oversaw renewable energy programs. He chaired the Congressional Study Group on Germany that met regularly with top German political and business leaders. During his time in Congress he recognized that Americans have every right to expect institutions, public and private, be accountable for the resources they are given. He believes as Rev. Jesse Jackson does that “If you want to change the world, you must first change your neighborhood; If you can’t change your neighborhood, at least be a good example.”
Congressman Gutknecht won numerous awards for his fiscal conservatism. He was voted a Watchdog of the Treasury and is especially proud of his service on the House Budget Committee. During his tenure on that Committee, the federal budget was balanced and nearly half a trillion dollars worth of federal debt was paid off. He strongly believes that it is fundamentally immoral for one generation to artificially improve their standard of living by borrowing against the next.
He frequently speaks to college students around the country about his time in Congress. While in Congress he did a call in radio show which ultimately grew to a network of 13 stations. The former Congressman can still be heard as a frequent contributor on call in talk shows. Gil believes in giving back. He is an accomplished Auctioneer. Using his skills, he has helped raise over $2 million for charities ranging from 4H and the Boy Scouts to Cancer Research.
Gutknecht currently serves as an advisor to several companies including TransparaGov Corporation, a leading developer of software tools designed to bring visual analytic technologies used by Fortune 500 Companies to governmental bodies. These tools help policy-makers become better stewards of public funds, make smarter decisions, help prevent fraud while promoting greater transparency and accountability.
He met his wife Mary at the University of Northern Iowa where he graduated with a degree in business. They have three grown children and four small grandchildren
Former Congressman MIchael Kopetski has a long relationship with Washington DC having served as a research assistant to the Senate Watergate Committee (1973-1974). He then served as a committee administrator in the Oregon Legislative Assembly (1977-1982) before becoming an Oregon state legislature (1985-1989). He served as the representative for Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District (1991-1995).
While in Congress, Representative Kopetski served as member of the Committee on Ways and Means with jurisdiction over policies on U.S. trade, tax, and health care. He also served on the House Committees on Judiciary, Agriculture and Science, Space and Technology.
He was very active in foreign affairs and was the leader of the bi-partisan delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Annual Meeting in Paris (September 1994). He participated in the official visit to India and Pakistan to discuss arms control and trade issues with leaders of respective governments (April 1994). He participated in the official visit to China to discuss trade, arms control and human rights issues with Chinese leaders (December 1993). He was a co-leader of the bi-partisan delegation to Mexico promoting NAFTA (November 1993). He participated in official visits to Paris, Geneva and Mexico City encouraging progress on negotiations for a comprehensive test ban treaty (1993). In addition, he was part of an official visit to Israel for security briefings and discussions with Israeli leaders, including a personal visit to refugee camps in Gaza, and of an official visit to refugee camps in Hong Kong (Vietnamese), Thailand (Hmong), India (Tibetans), Turkey and Iraq (Kurds) as part of the Subcommittee on Refugees Assignment (August 1991).
Representative Kopetski served as the House Floor whip’s team member to pass the 1993 Reconciliation Bill. The measure originated in the House Ways & Means Committee on which he served. Passage of the legislation resulted in structural changes to the Federal budget such that a balanced budget was attained. He was named to the House’s Bipartisan Leadership Whip teams on international trade, and he actively participated in the successful effort to secure passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade implementing legislation, and the extension of Most Favored Nation trade status for China.
Representative Kopetski established the House of Representatives Working Group on Mental Health. This bipartisan, 60 Member organization quickly became the principal policy-making apparatus for mental health issues ultimately resulting in the inclusion of mental health benefits in Ways and Means Committee’s 1994 health care reform legislation.
Representative Kopetski introduced legislation to end nuclear weapons testing and successfully organized the bipartisan effort to obtain the legislation’s passage and enactment over the opposition of the chairman of the committee of Jurisdiction and of the Administration.
Since leaving Congress, Representative Kopetski has worked as a consultant for Boeing, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and many other companies. In addition, he was the Secretary/Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the NATO Summit Host Committee in Prague in 2002. He participated as an election observer three times in Ukraine and was involved in projects in Iraq and Indonesia to mentor legislators.