Janice D. Schakowsky (born May 22, 1944), American politician, has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1999, representing the 9th District of Illinois (map). The district includes many of Chicago's northern suburbs, including Evanston, Skokie, Glenview and Rosemont. It also includes a large portion of Chicago's North Side bordering Lake Michigan.
She was born in Chicago and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1965. A longtime consumer rights advocate, she was responsible for a 1969 law requiring the printing of freshness dates on groceries. She was Program Director of Illinois Public Action, Illinois' largest public interest group, from 1976 to 1985. She then moved to the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens as executive director for five years until 1990, when she was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. She served there for four terms.
Sidney Yates, who had represented the 9th District since 1949, except for an unsuccessful run for the Senate in 1962, had announced in 1996 that he wouldn't run for reelection in 1998. Schakowsky easily won the Democratic primary, which all but assured her of election in the heavily Democratic 9th. She won in November with 75 percent of the vote and has easily won reelection three times with 70 percent or more of the vote.
In 2006 Jan will face Republican Michael P. Shannon.
In the House, Schakowsky serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where she is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection; she also serves on the Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Schakowsky has been known for her support of women's issues while in Congress, and is a close friend of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D, CA). She reportedly phoned every female partner of a law firm in Chicago during her first run for office in 1998, and has gained national acclaim for her fundraising prowess.
She was one of the earliest and most emphatic supporters of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama before his win in the 2004 Illinois Democratic Primary.
In August 2005, Schakowsky's husband, lobbyist Robert Creamer, the executive director of the Illinois Public Action Fund, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to collect withholding tax, and bank fraud for writing checks with insufficient funds. All of the money was repaid. According to USA Today Congresswoman "Schakowsky has not been accused of any wrongdoing." However, she did serve on the organization's board while she herself condemns the influence of lobbyists in politics. U.S. District Judge James B. Moran noted no one suffered "out of pocket losses" and Creamer acted not out of greed but in an effort to keep his community action group going without cutting programs, though Creamer payed his own $100,000 salary with fraudulently obtained funds. Judge Moran's son-in-law had a seat on the board of one of Creamer's many organizations. Judge Moran says he thought about recusing himself from the trial, but the defense and the prosecution didn't ask him to leave. So he stayed. On April 5, 2006, Creamer was sentenced to five months in prison and 11 months house arrest. Creamer has been ordered to report to prison by June 6, 2006.