Factbox: Barney Frank's long, colorful career

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:26am EST

House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) holds a hearing about a proposed government bailout plan for the US auto industry on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 5, 2008.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) holds a hearing about a proposed government bailout plan for the US auto industry on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 5, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barney Frank, one of the most colorful members of the House of Representatives, is expected to announce he is quitting after 32 years of representing his Massachusetts district, congressional aides said on Monday.

Here are some highlights of the career of Frank, a liberal Democrat:

* As chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank co-wrote and won passage in 2010 of major Wall Street regulatory reforms. Known as "Dodd-Frank," (he collaborated with then-Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd), the measure was a reaction to the 2007-2009 financial crisis and was opposed by most Republicans in Congress.

* In 1987, Frank became one of the first U.S. politicians to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality. A couple of years later, it was reported that a male prostitute was living in Frank's Washington, D.C., home and that he was employed as a personal aide. The House reprimanded Frank for his actions.

When ethics lapses hit other congressmen in recent years, Frank consistently withheld judgment and remarks to reporters, noting his own past ethics problem.

* Frank, 71, is known for his rapid-fire speech and razor-sharp wit. In 2009, at a town hall meeting, he was confronted by a detractor holding an altered picture of President Barack Obama with a Hitler-like mustache. Referring to Obama's healthcare reform plans, the woman asked Frank how he could continue to "support a Nazi policy."

Frank shot back: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" He then added: "It is a tribute to the First Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution, which allows free speech) that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated," and "trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in it."

* Frank played a central role in crafting Wall Street bailout legislation in 2008, known as TARP, and urged Republicans to support the measure, which became a flashpoint in the 2008 and 2010 elections. He also was a force behind affordable housing efforts.

* Frank is a close confidant of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now the Democratic leader in the House. Frank's sister, Ann Lewis, is a well-known Democratic Party operative who advised Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and President Bill Clinton when he was in the White House.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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