Dennis Webster DeConcini (born May 8, 1937) is an American politician and former Democratic U.S. Senator from Arizona. The son of former Arizona Supreme Court Judge Evo Anton DeConcini, he represented Arizona in the United States Senate from 1977 until 1995.
DeConcini was born in Tucson, Arizona, the son of Ora (née Webster) and Evo Anton DeConcini. His father was Judge on the Arizona State Superior Court for 10 years, then served as the Arizona Attorney General for one two-year term from 1948 to 1949 before being appointed to the Arizona State Supreme Court where he served as a Judge for four years from 1949–1953. DeConcini received his bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona in 1959 and his LLB from the University of Arizona in 1963. He then worked as a lawyer for the Arizona Governor's staff from 1965 to 1967. He founded the law firm of DeConcini, McDonald, Yetwin & Lacy (where he is still a partner) with offices in Tucson, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
He is a member of the advisory council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
DeConcini served one elected term as Pima County, Arizona Attorney (1973–1976), the chief prosecutor and civil attorney for the county and school districts within the county.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 as a Democrat, having defeated Republican Party (GOP) U.S. Representative Sam Steiger for the open seat left by retiring GOP Senator Paul Fannin. Steiger had first won a bruising primary in 1976 against the more conservative U.S. Representative John B. Conlan. DeConcini served three terms (1976-1994) in the Senate.
DeConcini sponsored an amendment (the DeConcini Reservation) to the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 which allows the United States "to take such steps as each [the U.S. or Panama] deems necessary, in accordance with its constitutional processes, including the use of military force in the Republic of Panama, to reopen the Canal or restore the operations of the Canal, as the case may be."
DeConcini was widely noted as a member of the Keating Five in a banking and political contribution ethics investigation during the 1980s which grew out of the U.S. Savings and Loan Crisis. The Senate investigation involved Charles Keating and Lincoln Savings/Continental Homes, the sixth largest employer in the state of Arizona at the time. The Senate Ethics Committee looked into the actions of five United States Senators in relation to their actions connected with Charles Keating and concluded that Senators DeConcini, McCain, Glenn and Riegle "broke no laws or Senate ethics rules, but were aggressive in their actions on behalf of Charles Keating." DeConcini did not run for a fourth term.
DeConcini served on the Senate Appropriations Committee where he chaired the Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government. He also served on the Subcommittees on Defense, Energy and Water Development and Foreign Operations. DeConcini also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee and chaired the Subcommittee on Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks, along with the Subcommittees on Antitrust, Monopolies and Business Rights, the Constitution and the Courts. DeConcini also served on the Select Intelligence Committee and was Chairman of the Committee in 1993 and 1994 and also chaired the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission). DeConcini also served on the Rules Committee and Select Committee on Indian Affairs.
In February 1995 DeConcini was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), where he served until May 1999.
In 2006 the former senator was selected by then Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano (later Secretary of Homeland Security) to serve as a member of the Arizona Board of Regents.
DeConcini's congressional papers are held at the University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections.
DeConcini managed Shopping Centers, Inc. in Tucson, Ariz, from 1963–64 and 1967–73. He also managed family corporation and partnerships involved in Arizona and California real estate development projects. He has served on the boards of Global Health Science, Inc., Schuff Steel Company, and Greater Arizona Savings Bank.
DeConcini served on the board of directors of the Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic) from 2008 to 2014. Starting in 2010, some individuals protested his membership on the board, saying his involvement is "not suitable for a public figure like DeConcini." Although he claims he has not lobbied for harsher immigration laws and sentencing practices, he admits meetings with the Arizona Department of Corrections Director Chuck Ryan and "publicly speaking in favor of" for-profit prisons.
It has been alleged that in 1979, DeConcini had insider knowledge about the proposed route of the Central Arizona Project and that he used this knowledge to purchase land that he resold six years later to the federal government for a gain of almost $1,000,000.
DeConcini is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), a global nonprofit organization that combats child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child abduction.
- Senator Dennis DeConcini: From the Center of the Aisle by Dennis DeConcini & Jack L. August Jr., (University of Arizona Press February 1, 2006) ISBN 978-0-8165-2569-0