TUCSON, Ariz. (March 24, 2010) — The Tucson office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the only former tire dealer in Congress, was vandalized in the early morning hours of March 22, a few hours after Rep. Giffords cast a vote in favor of the health care bill.
Glass in the office's front door and an adjacent panel was found smashed when Rep. Giffords' staff arrived for work the morning of March 22. C.J. Karamargin, Rep. Giffords' press secretary, said the police were still investigating.
Mr. Karamargin said there was no way to say categorically that Rep. Giffords' favorable vote on the health care bill was the direct cause of the vandalism. “But since we've never been vandalized before, and because the incident occurred so soon after the final vote on health care, there does seem to be a connection,” he told Tire Business.
In a March 20 statement on her Web site, Rep. Giffords explained why she decided to support the health care bill, which passed the House 219-212 March 21 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama March 23.
“By ending abusive insurance company practices and offering immediate tax credits to small businesses and individuals who cannot afford to purchase coverage, we will be taking an historic step toward transforming our broken health insurance system,” she said.
Rep. Giffords formerly served as president of Tucson-based El Campo Tire & Service Centers Inc., a business founded by her grandfather in 1949. She was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006—representing Tucson and the surrounding 9,000-square-mile 8th Congressional District.
In a 2007 interview with Tire Business, Ms. Giffords noted that “I have a $1.3 million budget, 20 employees and three locations, though obviously we're not selling tires here, but crafting legislation.”
She grew up working summers in the family business and never anticipated working fulltime in it, much less running it either while obtaining her master's degree in regional planning at Cornell University, later working in capital management at the then-Price Waterhouse firm in New York. When she got word that her father was ill and she was needed at home, Ms. Giffords drove cross-country back to Arizona to help out, she said.
“Family businesses are different from the rest of the business world,” she recalled. “You pitch in and change a tire when you have to, and you get to know your employees a lot better than in a corporation.”
Eventually she developed an interest in politics though she had no background in it, learning as much as she could about the Arizona legislature. In 2000, she sold El Campo Tire to Goodyear and ran as a Democrat for the Arizona House of Representatives, winning that election and two subsequent elections to the Arizona Senate before winning a seat in the U.S. House.