Sean Patrick Duffy (born October 3, 1971) is an American politician, prosecutor, former sports commentator and reality television personality. He first entered public life as a cast member on The Real World: Boston, 1998's Road Rules: All Stars, and 2002's Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, before going on to serve as district attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin and the U.S. Representative for Wisconsin's 7th congressional district. He is a member of the Republican Party and supported Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid.
Sean Patrick Duffy was born on October 3, 1971 in Hayward, Wisconsin, the tenth of 11 children of Carol Ann (née Yackel) and Thomas Walter Duffy. He is of Irish, English, German, and Norwegian descent. Duffy has a marketing degree from St. Mary's University, and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.
Duffy started log rolling at age five and speed climbing (sprinting up 60 and 90 foot poles) at 13. He holds two speed-climbing titles.
Duffy has been an ESPN color commentator for televised competitions and in 2003 appeared as both a competitor and commentator on ESPN's Great Outdoor Games. He was named Badger State Games Honorary Athlete of the 2004 Winter Games.
In 1997, Duffy appeared on The Real World: Boston, the sixth season of the MTV reality television show, and on Road Rules: All Stars in 1998, where he met his future wife Rachel. Duffy later appeared on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, which aired in 2002. Both appeared in a filmed segment on 2008's The Real World Awards Bash, while Duffy served as district attorney.
Duffy, a Republican, was appointed to the district attorney's post in 2002 by then Governor Scott McCallum, and was elected unopposed in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Upon assuming the office of district attorney, he succeeded Michael Gableman, a current justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Duffy was on the Republican slate of the 10 Wisconsin electors for the 2008 Presidential Election.
U.S. House of Representatives
On July 8, 2009, Duffy announced his campaign for Congress in Wisconsin's seventh congressional district. Duffy was considered an underdog in the race until May 2010 when 15-term incumbent Democratic Representative Dave Obey announced that he would not seek re-election. Following Obey's announcement, Democratic State Senator Julie Lassa joined the race.
On June 4, 2010, Duffy announced his resignation from the position of District Attorney of Ashland County to focus on the congressional race. The resignation was effective three weeks later and Duffy returned to work in his father's law practice.
He won the race on November 2, 2010, in a nationwide wave of Republicans being elected to Congress. Different sources attribute his victory to his ten-month head start on Lassa's campaign, his grassroots organization and fundraising, his experience as a district attorney, and voter discontent with the economy.
Duffy was challenged by Democratic nominee Pat Kreitlow.
Duffy was challenged by Democratic nominee Kelly Westlund.
In 2011 Duffy voted to eliminate Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements for federal projects. The first piece of legislation he sponsored was the 2011 Recovering Excessive Stimulus Expenditures for Taxpayers (RESET) Act, which called for using unspent money in Obama's economic stimulus plan to pay down the federal budget deficit. The idea was later incorporated into a spending bill. He also introduced a resolution to ban earmarks.
In March 2011, Duffy was criticized when a video published by the Polk County Republicans, showing a public town hall-style meeting in his district, was picked up by media commentators. In the video, made in the wake of the passage of a controversial state bill which would have effectively frozen the salaries of state employees, Duffy was asked about whether he would be willing to cut his own $174,000 salary. Duffy responded that he would only be willing to do so as part of a general round of salary cuts for government employees, and insisted that he was "struggling" to get by, despite his salary being nearly three times the average for Wisconsin residents.
On December 22, 2011, Duffy and fellow GOP House freshman Rick Crawford (Arkansas), published an open letter to Speaker Boehner, urging the leader to allow the House to vote on the Senate's 2-month tax cut extension compromise.
In 2013, Duffy and Democratic House member Michael Michaud (Maine) introduced a resolution calling for government action to ensure that people be provided with paper-based information along with electronic.
In October 2015, Duffy was named to serve on the Select Investigative Panel on Planned Parenthood.
Duffy introduced the Small Cap Liquidity Reform Act of 2013 (H.R. 3448; 113th Congress) on November 12, 2013. The bill is intended to increase the liquidity on the stock market of stocks belonging to emerging growth companies. It would allow small companies to choose a tick size of $0.05 or $0.10 instead of the standard $0.01. To participate, companies would need to have stock prices of over $1.00 and revenues of less than $750 million.
On September 26, 2013 Duffy introduced the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 3193; 113th Congress), originally named the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Accountability Act of 2013, also known as the Consumer Financial Freedom and Washington Accountability Act. It proposed replacing the director of the fledgling consumer watchdog group, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with a five-person commission and removing the CFPB from Federal Reserve System oversight so that it "would go through the same funding process as other federal agencies." The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would have been renamed the Financial Product Safety Commission. The bill also intended to make overturning the decisions about regulations that the new commission made easier to do. The bill gave the commission more room to get rid of polices that Duffy believes jeopardize the safety of the US banking system. He was a cosponsor of the Financial Product Safety Commission Act of 2015 and has introduced a number of bills intended to weaken the CFPB.
In December 2015, Duffy introduced the Puerto Rico Financial Stability and Debt Restructuring Choice Act (H.R. 4199) (developed into the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) (H.R. 4900) in 2016), which addressed the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis. The bill would create a short-term independent board to oversee Puerto Rico's financial planning and annual budgets, with the aim of restoring financial stability to Puerto Rico and avoiding American taxpayer liability. It is similar to bills written in July and October 2015 by Pedro Pierluisi, the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, in that the Duffy bill also proposes a financial oversight board and access to Chapter 9 restructuring. The October 2015 Pierluisi bill was neglected in the U.S. Congress until the governor of Puerto Rico visited Washington on December 9, 2015 to draw attention to the crisis and the bill. "By the afternoon, Republicans in Congress had introduced two bills to help alleviate Puerto Rico’s fiscal problems", one of which was the Duffy bill. In April 2016 the bill stalled in the House for rewriting.
Duffy serves on the House Committee on Financial Services. He was appointed Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in November 2014, taking over from Patrick McHenry. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. He has served on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit and the Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
- 2014 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 7th District
- Sean Duffy (R), 60%
- Kelly Westlund (D), 39%
- 2012 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 7th District
- Sean Duffy (R), 56%
- Pat Kreitlow (D), 44%
- 2010 Race for U.S. House of Representatives – 7th District
- Sean Duffy (R), 52%
- Julie Lassa (D), 44%
- 2008 Race for District Attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin
- Sean Duffy (R) (inc.)
- 2006 Race for District Attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin
- Sean Duffy (R) (inc.)
- 2004 Race for District Attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin
- Sean Duffy (R) (inc.)
- 2002 Race for District Attorney of Ashland County, Wisconsin
- Sean Duffy (R) (inc.)
Duffy is married to Rachel Campos-Duffy, an alumna of The Real World: San Francisco. They once lived in Ashland, Wisconsin. They moved to Weston, Wisconsin in late 2011, and in 2013 they moved to Wausau, Wisconsin so that Duffy could be closer to an airport for his weekly commute to Washington, D.C., where he spends three or four days a week.
They have eight children: Evita Pilar, Xavier Jack, Lucia-Belen, John-Paul, Paloma Pilar, MariaVictoria Margarita, Margarita Pilar, and Patrick Miguel.
Duffy is a practicing Roman Catholic.