James M. Inhofe, Senator Who Denied Climate Change, Dies at 89


After Perry Inhofe Sr. died in 1970, his children inherited interests in Mid-Continent Casualty, which their father had helped found. James and his brother, Perry Jr., became principals. In a stock trade in 1979, Perry Jr. acquired control of Mid-Continent, and James acquired a spinoff, Quaker Life, which later failed. Lawsuits disrupted the family, and James won a $3 million settlement from Perry in 1990.

James, who became active in Oklahoma Republican politics in the mid-1960s, was a member of the State House of Representatives from 1967 to 1969 and of the State Senate from 1969 to 1977. He was a popular mayor of Tulsa, running unopposed for his second term and taking 59 percent of the votes for his third.

In 1986, when Representative James R. Jones, a Democrat, stepped aside to run for the Senate, Mr. Inhofe handily won his seat. In 1994, when Senator David Boren, a former Oklahoma governor, resigned in his third term to become president of the University of Oklahoma, Mr. Inhofe won the seat.

Mr. Inhofe’s exploits as one of the few licensed pilots in Congress attracted wide attention. He campaigned across Oklahoma in his private plane. In 1991, he and three other pilots flew a Cessna around the world in 18 days to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Wiley Post’s solo circumnavigation. He also claimed 11,000 hours of flying time.

In 2010, when he was 75, Mr. Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed South Texas airport runway, scattering construction workers. No one was hurt, but the construction supervisor and the airport manager reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Administration, and Mr. Inhofe was ordered to take four hours of remedial flying instruction in lieu of punishment.

Trip Gabriel contributed reporting.



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