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Rep. Millender-McDonald dies of cancer

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070423/ap_on_re_us/congresswoman_dies;_ylt=Avb8Sbgza5IM3vfmWOeapXWs0NUE Rep. Millender-McDonald dies of cancer By PETER PRENGAMAN,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 22 6:33 PM
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070423/ap_on_re_us/congresswoman_dies;_ylt=Avb8Sbgza5IM3vfmWOeapXWs0NUE

      Rep. Millender-McDonald dies of cancer

      By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer 41 minutes
      ago

      LOS ANGELES - Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (news,
      bio, voting record), a seven-term congresswoman from
      southern California, died late Saturday of cancer. She
      was 68.

      Millender-McDonald died at her home in Carson, said
      her chief of staff, Bandele McQueen.

      The congresswoman had asked for a four- to six-week
      leave of absence from the House last week to deal with
      her illness. McQueen couldn't immediately provide
      details on what form of cancer Millender-McDonald had,
      but said she had been receiving hospice care.

      "Juanita Millender-McDonald was a trailblazer, always
      advocating for the full participation of all Americans
      in the success and prosperity of our country," House
      Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) said
      in a statement. "The dignity with which she faced her
      illness was an indication of the determination with
      which she always served the people of her district."

      Millender-McDonald represented a heavily Democratic
      southern California district that includes Compton,
      Long Beach and parts of Los Angeles.

      "She was a dedicated public servant who tirelessly and
      honorably served her country for many years,"
      President Bush said in a statement. "We hold Rep.
      Millender-McDonald's family, friends, staff, and
      constituents in our thoughts and prayers."

      Millender-McDonald is the second member of Congress to
      die this year of cancer. Republican Rep. Charles
      Norwood (news, bio, voting record) Jr. of Georgia died
      in February after battling cancer and lung disease.

      "She was a champion for the consumer and fought
      injustice wherever she saw it. She always valued
      public service and served her state and nation with
      grace and honor," said California Democratic Party
      Chairman Art Torres, who served with her in the
      California state Legislature.

      The congresswoman's son, R. Keith McDonald, had
      received "temporary emergency release" from a 41-month
      prison term after his mother had surgery in May 2005,
      according to the Los Angeles Times. The former Los
      Angeles water district official was convicted of
      extortion in a contracts case. Millender-McDonald was
      never implicated.

      The congresswoman, a native of Birmingham, Ala.,
      worked on former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's
      unsuccessful 1982 gubernatorial campaign and other
      local races as a volunteer before getting elected to
      the Carson City Council in 1990.

      She went on to serve in the California state Assembly,
      and in 1996 sought a U.S. House seat during a special
      election to replace Rep. Walter Tucker III, who had
      been convicted of taking bribes while mayor of Compton
      and of cheating on his taxes.

      She won the special election, and in March beat out
      Tucker's wife, Robin, in a primary that featured nine
      Democrats. She won a full House term in November 1996
      and has subsequently won re-election easily.

      Millender-McDonald has recently worked on issues
      including election reform and opposing the genocide in
      Darfur. She drew national attention in 1996 when she
      took then-CIA director John Deutch to Watts to address
      the community following a newspaper report alleging
      that profits from domestic sales of crack-cocaine were
      funneled to the CIA-backed Contras in Nicaragua.

      This year, Millender-McDonald became chair of the
      Committee on House Administration, which oversees
      operations of the House and federal election
      procedures.

      She is survived by her husband, James McDonald, Jr.,
      and five adult children.

      Under California election procedures, Gov.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger has 14 days to set a date for a
      special election to fill the seat.

      ___

      Associated Press writer Erica Werner in Washington,
      D.C. contributed to this story.

      (This version CORRECTS that the congresswoman died
      late Saturday.)
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