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James Comer
Official portrait, 2020
Chair of the House Oversight Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Preceded byCarolyn Maloney
Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee
In office
June 29, 2020 – January 3, 2023
Preceded byJim Jordan
Succeeded byJamie Raskin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Kentucky's 1st district
Assumed office
November 8, 2016
Preceded byEd Whitfield
Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky
In office
January 2, 2012 – January 4, 2016
GovernorSteve Beshear
Matt Bevin
Preceded byRichie Farmer
Succeeded byRyan Quarles
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
from the 53rd district
In office
January 1, 2001 – January 2, 2012
Preceded byBilly Polston
Succeeded byBart Rowland
Personal details
James Richardson Comer Jr.

(1972-08-19) August 19, 1972 (age 51)
Carthage, Tennessee, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Tamara Jo Comer
(m. 2003)
EducationWestern Kentucky University (BS)
WebsiteHouse website

James Richardson Comer Jr.[1] (/ˈkmər/ KOH-mər; born August 19, 1972) is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Kentucky who represents the state's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. A member of the Republican Party, he has served in the Congress of the United States of America since 2016, during the 114th United States Congress. He previously served in the Kentucky House of Representatives and also served as the Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky.

As the chair of the Oversight Committee from 2023, Comer has declined or stopped investigations into former President Donald Trump. Comer is currently leading an investigation into the Biden family. Despite his claims of having uncovered "a mountain of evidence", he and his Republican colleagues have failed to produce any concrete proof to support their allegations.[2]

Comer served as Kentucky's agriculture commissioner from 2012 to 2016 and in the Kentucky House of Representatives from 2000 to 2012. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor of Kentucky in the 2015 election. A year later, he won the Republican nomination for Kentucky's 1st congressional district to succeed Ed Whitfield. On November 8, 2016, Comer won both a full term to the seat for the next Congress and a special election that allowed him to serve the remainder of Whitfield's term.

Early life and education

Comer is a native of Carthage, Tennessee. He grew up in Monroe County, Kentucky, graduating from Monroe County High School, Tompkinsville, Kentucky, in 1990.[3] He received a BS in Agriculture from Western Kentucky University in 1993.[4] In college he served as president of the Kentucky Future Farmers of America.[5] After college, he and his family started James Comer, Jr. Farms,[6] a 2,300 acres (950 ha) farm,[7] and he also co-owns Comer Land & Cattle Co.[8] He served as a director of the South Central Bank for 12 years.[4] Comer served as president of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce from 1999 to 2000.[4]

Kentucky politics

Kentucky House of Representatives

In 2000, Comer was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives at the age of 27 following the retirement of incumbent Billy Polston. Comer defeated Polston's wife Donnie for the Republican nomination.[9][10]

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture

Comer speaking to members of the Kentucky National Guard in 2013

In 2011, Comer ran for agriculture commissioner. The incumbent, Richie Farmer, was term-limited.[11] In the election, Comer was the only Republican to win election to a statewide executive office,[12] and worked with a team of Democratic officials and under a Democratic governor.[13] He had the highest percentage of the vote of any candidate on the ballot, and raised $606,766 to his opponent's $204,287.[14] He took office in January 2012. One of Comer's first actions in office was to team up with Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen to investigate his Republican predecessor's ethics while in office.[15]

That year Comer, became chair of the Kentucky Industrial Hemp Commission,[16] and shortly after taking office, he called the legalization of industrialized hemp his top priority,[17][18] and was "instrumental in getting the hemp industry up and running",[19] including by founding several pilot programs[20] in an effort to restart Kentucky's industrial hemp industry. He also filed suit against the DEA, which resulted in the DEA allowing hemp seeds to be delivered to Kentucky farmers for the first new crops.[21] Between 2014 and 2015, Kentucky's hemp crops grew from 33 to 1,700 acres.[22] Comer also advocated for national hemp deregulation.[23]

Comer founded the Kentucky Proud Farm to Campus program,[24] and created a mobile science centers program for primary and secondary school students to learn about agricultural sciences.[25]

2015 gubernatorial election

Main article: 2015 Kentucky gubernatorial election

Comer in 2014

On August 2, 2014, during the annual Fancy Farm picnic, Comer announced he would seek the Republican nomination for governor of Kentucky in the 2015 election.[26] His running mate was State Senator Christian McDaniel.[27] At the conclusion of voting in the May 19 election, Comer was 83 votes behind businessman Matt Bevin. The Associated Press, calling the race a "virtual tie", did not call it for either candidate. Comer refused to concede and said he would request a recanvass.[28] The request was filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office on May 20, with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes ordering the recanvass to begin at 9:00 a.m. on May 28.[29][30] After the recanvass, Grimes announced that Bevin remained 83 votes ahead of Comer.[31] She also said that should Comer want a full recount, it would require a court order from the Franklin Circuit Court.[32] On May 29, Comer announced he would not request a recount and conceded the nomination to Bevin.[33]

U.S. House of Representatives



Comer being sworn in by Speaker Paul Ryan

In 2016, Comer entered the Republican primary election for the 1st congressional district of Kentucky against two other competitors. Before the primary, he was endorsed by the NRA Political Victory Fund[34] and the US Chamber of Commerce.[35] He won the primary with 60.6% of the vote.[31] Comer was elected to the House with 72.6% of the vote.[19] Since Whitfield had resigned in September, Comer ran in two elections on November 8–a special election for the last two months of Whitfield's 11th term, and a regular election for a full two-year term. Comer won both elections over Democratic nominee Samuel L. Gaskins with over 72% of the vote.[36] He was sworn in soon after the results were certified, giving him two months' more seniority over the rest of the 2017 freshman class.


During his first few months in office, Comer held several town hall meetings, where he discussed the Congress's early platform.[37] He partnered with Murray State University to form the Congressman James Comer Congressional Agriculture Fellowship program,[38] and advocated for agricultural legislation reform.[39] He criticized the regulatory policies of Barack Obama,[40] and supported the early domestic policies and actions of President Donald Trump. Comer is a social conservative on same-sex marriage and abortion, which means he is in opposition to both.[41] He believes the trade embargo on Cuba should be lifted.[42]

Comer voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[43] After the bill passed, he said: "I am proud to support this critical part of President Trump's pro-growth agenda that will fulfill this promise to the American people who have struggled under the weight of Washington bureaucrats for far too long."[44]

Comer was an original cosponsor of the Hemp Farming Act, which legalized hemp nationwide and removed federal regulations on the crop.[45] The bill was later included in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 and signed into law by President Trump on December 20, 2018.[46] Comer was a member of the conference committee that negotiated its final version.[47]

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Comer and Representative Suzanne Bonamici introduced legislation that would protect access to school lunches for school districts throughout the country that had to close because of the pandemic.[48] The COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act allows the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to waive requirements for children to gather at schools for school officials and food service personnel to distribute reimbursable, nutritious meals. It also gives local school officials discretion over substitutions for meal components if supply or procurement is disrupted.[49] When introducing the bill, Comer said, "this bill is a critical step toward ensuring that our students maintain access to the school meals they rely on for their health and well-being".[48] After it cleared the House and Senate, President Trump signed the legislation into law on March 18.[49]

After the 2022 United States House of Representatives election resulted in a House Republican majority, Comer said that the House Oversight Committee's "focus in this next Congress" would be to investigate President Joe Biden, particularly his "relationship with his family's foreign partners and whether he is a president who is compromised or swayed by foreign dollars and influence".[50]

After Comer became chair of the Oversight Committee, he responded in January 2023 to the Joe Biden classified documents incident by calling for visitor logs for Biden's residence, where Biden's lawyers found some classified documents from his vice presidency; the same day, Comer said that he would not call for visitor logs for Trump's residence Mar-a-Lago, where an FBI search found classified documents from Trump's presidency despite Trump's lawyers' claim that no such documents were there.[51] Comer declared he would investigate Biden because Biden "hasn't been investigated", adding: "there have been so many investigations of President Trump. I don't feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump".[52] When Comer told Fox TV's Sean Hannity, "You look at how Donald Trump is treated. He had documents in one location behind a locked door," Florida Democratic congressman Jared Moskowitz aired previously publicly widely distributed footage of large quantities boxes of classified and confidential documents in Mar-a-Lago were haphazardly stored in various places including an unlocked bathroom and on a theater stage.[53] In March 2023, Comer confirmed that he had ended a House investigation into Trump's financial dealings, in which Trump's former accounting company, Mazars USA, had been turning over documents as part of a court-supervised settlement; the documents provided information on how foreign governments patronized the Trump International Hotel. Comer said he "didn’t even know who or what Mazars was" and that he was instead investigating "money the Bidens received from China".[54]

When CNN asked Comer in April 2023 whether his investigation had found "anything illegal while [Joe Biden] was actually in office", he replied: "we found a lot that's certainly unethical … We found a lot that should be illegal. The line is blurry as to what is legal and not legal with respect to family influence-peddling."[55][56] On September 12, 2023, Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden, and announced that he had chosen Comer to head the inquiry.[57]

Comer discussed the impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden in October 2023, stating that "because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for [private] depositions or [public] committee hearings, whichever they choose".[58] After Biden's son Hunter was subpoenaed to testify, Hunter preferred to testify publicly instead of privately, to avoid misrepresentations of the proceedings, stated Hunter's lawyer; Comer responded that the subpoenas for a private deposition were "not mere suggestions open to [Hunter] Biden's interpretation or preference".[58]

Committee assignments

For the 118th Congress:[59]

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Health care

Comer supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").[62]

Economic issues

In 2016 Comer called the Obama administration's final budget a "disaster in the making".[citation needed] In 2017, he voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was estimated to add $1.49 trillion to the national debt.[63]

Comer opposes paid parental leave for federal workers.[64]


Comer opposes amnesty and sanctuary cities. He supports Executive Order 13767, the building of a wall along the Mexico–U.S. border.[62]


Comer is anti-abortion.[62]


Comer supports declassifying marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic and growing hemp. In December 2017, he said there is "simply not enough support for medical marijuana legalization across the board".[65]

LGBT rights

Comer opposes same-sex marriage.[62] He also opposes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and voted against the Equality Act in 2019.[66][67] Comer voted against the Respect for Marriage Act in 2022.[68]

Foreign policy

In June 2021, Comer was one of 49 House Republicans to vote to repeal the AUMF against Iraq.[69][70]

In 2023, Comer was among 47 Republicans to vote in favor of H.Con.Res. 21 which directed President Joe Biden to remove U.S. troops from Syria within 180 days.[71][72]

Comer voted to provide Israel with support following 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.[73][74]

Electoral history

Kentucky 53rd State House District Republican Primary, 2000[75]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 3,969 81.33
Republican Donnie Mayfield Polston 911 18.67
Total votes 4,880 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2000[76]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 11,051 100.0
Total votes 11,051 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2002[77]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 9,361 100.0
Total votes 9,361 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2004[78]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,247 100.0
Total votes 12,247 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2006[79]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 10,876 100.0
Total votes 10,876 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2008[80]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,482 100.0
Total votes 12,482 100.0
Kentucky 53rd State House District General Election, 2010[81]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 12,040 100.0
Total votes 12,040 100.0
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Republican Primary, 2011[82]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 86,316 66.67
Republican Rob Rothenburger 43,150 33.33
Total votes 129,466 100.0
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture General Election, 2011[83]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 519,183 63.79
Democratic Robert "Bob" Farmer 294,663 36.21
Total votes 813,846 100.0
Kentucky Governor Republican Primary, 2015[84]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Matt Bevin (Jenean Hampton) 70,480 32.90
Republican James R. Comer (Chris McDaniel) 70,397 32.87
Republican Hal Heiner (K.C. Crosbie) 57,951 27.06
Republican Will T. Scott (Rodney Coffey) 15,365 7.17
Total votes 214,193 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District Republican Primary, 2016[85]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 24,342 60.59
Republican Mike Pape 9,357 23.29
Republican Jason Batts 5,578 13.88
Republican Miles A. Caughey Jr. 896 2.23
Total votes 40,173 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District Special Election, 2016[86]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 209,810 72.19
Democratic Samuel L. Gaskins 80,813 27.81
Total votes 290,623 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District General Election, 2016[87]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer 216,959 72.56
Democratic Samuel L. Gaskins 81,710 27.33
Write-in Terry McIntosh 332 0.11
Total votes 299,001 100.0
Kentucky 1st Congressional District General Election, 2018[88]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James R. Comer (incumbent) 172,167 68.59
Democratic Paul Walker 78,849 31.41
Total votes 251,016 100.0
Kentucky's 1st congressional district, 2020
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican James Comer (incumbent) 246,329 75.0
Democratic James Rhodes 82,141 25.0
Total votes 328,470 100.0

Personal life

Comer is married to Tamara Jo "TJ" Comer and has three children. He was baptized at First Baptist Church of Tompkinsville and is a member of Elkhorn Baptist Church in Midway, Kentucky.[1][89]

On May 5, 2015, Comer was accused of physical and mental abuse by Marilyn Thomas, a woman he dated while attending Western Kentucky University in 1993.[90] He has said he believes the accusation was a political stunt to hinder his gubernatorial campaign.[31]

By 2023, Comer has reported owning around 1,600 acres of land.[91]

In 2015, just before Comer started publicly running for Congress, he bought a 50% stake in six acres of Kentucky land for $128,000 from landowner Darren Cleary, a major donor to Comer's political campaigns.[91] In 2017, Comer transferred this stake to a shell company, Farm Team Properties, that Comer owns with his wife.[91] Comer reported that Farm Team Companies was worth at least $500,000 in 2022, but it was "not clear" if the shell company owned any other assets, reported the Associated Press in 2023.[91]


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Party political offices Preceded byRichie Farmer Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky 2011 Succeeded byRyan Quarles Political offices Preceded byRichie Farmer Agriculture Commissioner of Kentucky 2012–2016 Succeeded byRyan Quarles U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byEd Whitfield Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 1st congressional district 2016–present Incumbent Preceded byCarolyn Maloney Chair of the House Oversight Committee 2023–present Incumbent U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byWarren Davidson United States representatives by seniority 183rd Succeeded byDwight Evans