- Was elected to the House of Representatives in 2016
- Joined the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus
- Supports Black Lives Matter
- Strongly opposed President Trump
- Voted to impeach President Trump
- Supports abortion-on-demand and affirmative action
- Supports amnesty and a pathway-to-citizenship for illegal aliens
- Opposes Voter ID laws
Val Venita Demings was born as Valdez Venita Butler in Jacksonville, Florida, on March 12, 1957. Raised in a poor family of seven children in the Jacksonville neighborhood of Mandarin, she graduated from Florida State University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology. Seventeen years later, in 1996, Demings earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Webster University in Orlando.
Demings began her professional career as a social worker in Jacksonville before moving to Orlando to work in law enforcement during the early 1980s. In her 27 years with the Orlando Police Department (1984-2011), she served in a number of different capacities including Commander of Special Operations from 2003-2006, and Chief of Police from 2007-2011.
Since 1988, Ms. Demings has been married to Jerry Demings, who served as Orlando Police Chief from 1998-2002 and Sheriff of Orange County (Florida) from 2009-2018, before being elected Mayor of Orange County in 2018.
In 2012, Ms. Demings, a Democrat, made an unsuccessful run for Florida’s 10th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, losing to Republican Daniel Webster. Due to a 2015 Florida Supreme Court order which reconfigured surrounding districts in a manner that made the 10th District more compact and more heavily Democratic, Demings easily won election to the U.S. House in 2016. She received the endorsement of the Council for a Livable World as well as that of The Collective PAC, an organization that aims “to build Black political power” and has contributed to the campaigns of such notable Democrats as Kamala Harris, Antonio Delgado, Stacy Abrams, and Chokwe Antar Lumumba. The group also maintains ties to Hillary Clinton’s Onward Together organization.
Prior to becoming an elected official, Demings in 2015 attended the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference, where President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address. As a panelist for the conference’s town hall – titled “Back Lives Matter: Ending Racial Profiling, Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration” — Demings spoke alongside notable leftists such as Representatives Elijah Cummings, Hakeem Jeffries, Sheila Jackson Lee, and G.K. Butterfield, as well as Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza. Some comments from the town hall speakers included the following:
- “As we focus on the policy, I believe Black Lives Matter can be the catalyst, just like the movement that brought about voting and Civil Rights legislation in the ’60s.” (Jackson Lee)
- “Black men are viewed as economic commodities…. Democrats and Republicans built a prison industrial complex and then filled it through mass incarceration.” (Jeffries)
- “I do not believe our criminal justice system is broken…. As a matter of fact it is not broken; it is designed to work just as it does today.” (Garza, referencing the disproportionately high incarceration rates of black and other nonwhite minorities)
- “We need to be sure that the wheels of justice turn and are not stopped.” (Cummings)
With her tenure in Congress coinciding with the start of Donald Trump’s presidency, Demings was a vocal opponent of both Trump and his administration:
- In February 2017, Demings said that President Trump’s declaration of a “state-of-emergency” in order to justify the funding of a wall along the U.S. southern border, was “a disgrace.” “The only crisis on the border is the one that President Trump has created by working to instill fear, imprisoning children and separating families, and failing to hire enough officers to properly staff ports of entry,” she added.
- In response to President Trump’s April 2017 decision to order an airstrike against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria, Demings said: “While I strongly condemn the cruel and evil actions of [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad on innocent women and children, President Trump should have obtained Congressional approval before using military force.” Demings also stated: “If the President wants to be proactive and not reactive, the United States should open its doors to the children, women and men who are being slaughtered by Assad’s regime.”
- Characterizing President Trump’s May 2017 decision to fire FBI Director James Comey as “very concerning,” Demings called for a “fair and non-partisan investigation” to examine allegations of Trump-Russian “collusion” and to ultimately “put partisanship aside and do what’s best for the future of our democracy.” She later identified the selection of Robert Mueller to lead the collusion investigation as “a brilliant choice,” describing Mueller as someone who “will be relentless in his pursuit of the facts.”
- In May 2017 as well, Demings introduced an amendment designed to prevent an FBI Director from being removed for any reason other than “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” “The American people should have faith that no one — that includes the President, the U.S. Attorney General, and Deputy U.S. Attorney General — should be able to interfere with the proper functioning of the FBI, or [with] its work with local and state law enforcement agencies,” she added.
- Also in May 2017, Demings claimed that President Trump’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 was a “cruel and inhumane” document that would have “devastating effects on working families, women and children, and those with disabilities who depend on social security disability insurance.”
- In June 2017, Demings accused President Trump of “sending a strong message of indifference to our allies around the world” by terminating America’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. “We have a moral obligation to protect our natural resources for our children, their children, and the generations to come,” she explained. “Our nation has to continue to be a global leader climate change.”
- In January 2018, Demings joined fellow Democratic Representatives Jerry Nadler and Cedric Richmond in introducing a resolution to censure President Trump for derogatory remarks he had allegedly made about certain Third World countries. Asserting that “Unfortunately, racism is still the ghost in the room, and now it is the ghost in the White House,” Demings pleaded for the U.S. to not “become a country that indulges in our original sin rather than [seeking] to abolish it.”
- In February 2018, Demings denounced Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the office of sheriff is “a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement.” Portraying Sessions’ remarks as racist, the congresswoman said they were “ahistorical, dangerous and [indicative of] just how much [Sessions] is out of touch with law enforcement around the country.” Added Demings: ““I am appalled that America’s top law enforcement officer is unaware that Americans of all races have served with pride and distinction as police officers, police chiefs, sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, FBI Agents, Secret Service Agents, and more. […] And his comments are deeply disturbing given a decade of FBI warnings that white supremacists have attempted to infiltrate law enforcement departments, which threatens our national security and jeopardizes the safety of law enforcement officers.”
- In May 2018, Demings alleged that President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal “will not make any of us safer.” “President Trump has removed the United States from a multilateral agreement, taken away our strength at the enforcement table, and undermined past, current, and future good-faith agreements,” she said.
- In June 2018, following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Trump’s temporary travel ban on people hailing from several mostly-Muslim nations that were hotbeds of terrorism, Demings denounced the Trump Administration for attempting to “make discrimination the law of the land.” Added the congresswoman: “If Muslims can be targeted today, who is next? I am shocked that the Supreme Court chose to disregard President Trump’s countless public statements of bigotry and hatred. While I am disappointed at today’s decision, this is only one instance of a massive campaign throughout this administration to make discrimination the law of the land…. Perhaps my colleagues [in Congress] will find the political courage to stop the Administration’s dangerous and reckless anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies.”
- In July 2018, Demings introduced the Secure America from Russian Interference Act as a mechanism to “protect the American people” from when Russia and foreign adversaries “attack us again through the gaping hole in our security left by President Trump.” ““This president,” added Demings, “… is protecting [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s agenda, and Putin’s agenda is to destroy the United States. In this vacuum of leadership, it’s up to Congress to step up and protect the American people.”
- In January 2020, Demings declared that President Trump’s decision to order a military airstrike to kill Iranian terrorist Qasem Soleimani was a “reckless and destabilizing strike [that] puts Americans and our allies at risk.”
- In January 2020 as well, Demings served as one of seven “Impeachment Managers” selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead the impeachment effort against President Trump. Said Demings: ““I am honored to have the opportunity to help defend our republic in this incredible moment in history…. The president … has abandoned his oath of office and the Constitution, choosing to put his [own] interest before the national interest. The evidence against the president is overwhelming. The president abused his office to try to cheat in the 2020 election, and then covered it up. He shall be held accountable.”
- Demings supported various measures designed to penalize President Trump following the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 by several hundred of his supporters. Specifically, Demings: (a) co-sponsored and advocated for Representative Jamie Raskin’s resolution to invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove President Trump from office; (b) supported the impeachment of the president on charges of incitement of insurrection; and (c) backed Representative Cori Bush’s resolution demanding an investigation into all the Republican members of Congress who had “voted to overturn the election and helped incite” the unrest at the Capitol.
During a September 28, 2022 appearance on MSNBC’s All In, Demings spoke at length about the threat posed by “climate change.” Among her remarks wer the following:
- “We are not going to be where we need to be until we acknowledge climate change and take it extremely seriously. It is something we are certainly looking at through the Committee on Homeland Security at the federal level. Look how much more do we need to experience before we accept [the fact that] hurricanes are becoming more intense, more severe. We have several tornado watches going on right here in Florida. We see extreme flooding particular in south Florida with the rise of the sea level. It time to stop taking about it we all need to come to the table and realize that climate change is real.”
- “Ian [Hurricane Ian, a Catergory 4 storm that had struck Florida earlier that same day] is one of the largest more intense storms that we have seen in the history of Florida. Look, I grew up in Florida. I’ve worked as a first responder for almost 30 years. This is certainly not my first storm, but certainly the intensity of this storm should call all of us to concern.”
As matters of principle, Demings believes that:
- all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
- public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- Social Security should remain entirely and permanently under federal control, with no movement whatsoever toward any degree of privatization;
- the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
- more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
- wealthy people and high income earners should pay dramatically higher tax rates than those with less wealth or lower incomes;
- restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
- social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
- illegal aliens should be offered amnesty and a pathway-to-citizenship if they have been productive members of society;
- voter ID laws make it unnecessarily difficult for people to vote in political elections;
- an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards;
- federal spending on public infrastructure projects and job programs is crucial to the success of any economic recovery program;
- the nationalization of banks and corporations is preferable to federal bailouts of those entities.
In both 2019 and 2021, Demings was a co-sponsor of the Democrats’ radical For the People Act (H.R. 1), which, in contravention to the congressman’s stated intent to “make democracy work for the people,” was a hyperpartisan piece of legislation designed to alter election laws in a manner that would disproportionately favor Democrats for many years to come.
In June 2021, Demings introduced the Every Vote Counts Act in an effort to prevent “Republicans in state legislatures across the country [who] are seeking political advantage to stop certain people [particularly nonwhites] from voting.”
As a co-sponsor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (named after the late Rep. John Lewis), Demings voted in favor of the bill in August 2021, claiming that it would help “defend our democracy, and with it, our power as a people to control our own destiny.” In an official press release issued on August 24, 2021, Demings went so far as to allege that “America currently faces the worst voter suppression campaign since Jim Crow.”
In September 2021, Demings was one of 54 Congressional Democrats who formally endorsed a letter co-authored by Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Nydia Velazquez calling on the Biden Administration to immediately halt all deportations of Haitian illegal aliens back to Haiti.
Demings also stated in September 2021 that “[i]mmigration reform to protect DREAMers, Florida farmers, TPS recipients, and essential workers is critical for our economy and our future.” Characterizing delays to immigration reform as impediments to the democratic process, the congresswoman stated that “every Senate Republican should be held accountable for opposing immigration reforms that will protect workers, add an estimated $1.5 trillion to our economy, and create 400,000 new jobs.”
A steadfast supporter of abortion rights, Demings in September 2021 passionately endorsed and voted for the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she said would “enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law.”
In December 2021, Demings was outraged when the Supreme Court upheld a Texas abortion law that allowed private citizens to sue anyone known to have helped someone obtain an abortion after the gestating baby’s heartbeat was detectable — i.e., at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. Denouncing the Texas legislation as “blatantly unconstitutional,” Demings warned of “[e]xtremist anti-choice politicians” who would undoubtedly seek to introduce similar laws in Florida. Such laws, she said, would “endanger the health and safety of Florida’s women.”
In 2021 as well, Demings helped introduce Representative Adam Schiff’s Protect Our Democracy Act, which included provisions: “limiting the president’s pardon power”; “extending the deadline for prosecuting former presidents and vice presidents for federal crimes committed before or during their time in office”; “enforcing the constitutional ban on presidents using the office to enrich themselves”; “strengthening protections for federal whistleblowers”; “requiring transparency of tax records of presidential candidates”; “preventing foreign interference in elections”; and “clarifying federal prohibitions on foreign assistance to campaigns.”
- In January 2018, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, who was present at an immigration-related meeting with a handful of fellow senators and President Trump at the White House, subsequently told reporters that Trump, during the meeting, had referred to a number of poverty-stricken, terrorism-ravaged African nations as “shithole countries” that the U.S. should shun as potential sources of future immigrants. Trump, for his part, denied having used the term that Durbin had accused him of uttering. For further details and an analytical discussion of this controversy, click here.
- DOJ spokesperson Ian Prior said in a statement that the term “Anglo-American law” is common parlance with a long history of usage by lawyers, legal scholars, and the U.S. Supreme Court. “As most law students learn in the first week of their first year,” said Prior, “Anglo-American law – also known as the common law – is a shared legal heritage between England and America. The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage. Before reporters sloppily imply nefarious meaning behind the term, we would suggest that they read any number of the Supreme Court opinions that use the term.”