Born on May 12, 1975 in Boulder, Colorado, Jared Schutz Polis earned a B.A. in political science from Princeton University in 1996. That same year, he founded an online offshoot of Blue Mountain Arts, his family's greeting-card and publishing business. In 1998 Polis started the flower-sales website ProFlowers.com. He also has served as founder and president of the Jared Polis Foundation (established in 2000); founder of the New America School (established in 2004); chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education; and co-founder of American Information Systems, an Internet-access, web-hosting, and application-service provider.
A longtime Democrat who volunteered for the political campaigns of such notables as Al Gore, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis, Polis was an Executive Committee member of both the Colorado Democratic Party and the Boulder County Democrats from 2000-07. In 2008, the voters in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District elected the openly gay Polis to the U.S. House of Representaives, where he co-chairs the LGBT Equality Caucus and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
When the House of Representatives voted by a 345-75 margin to defund the notoriously corrupt community organization ACORN in September 2009, Polis was one of the 75—all Democrats—who voted to continue funding the group. For a list of other legislators who voted as Polis did, click here.
In 2009, Polis, who sat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was a leading supporter of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which he said would greatly increase the effectiveness of America's healthcare system. Meanwhile, that summer Polis invested millions of dollars in Bridge International, a medical tourism company. As bestselling author Peter Schweizer explains: “[Polis] knew exactly what he was doing because the medical tourism industry in the summer of 2009 was saying, 'If ObamaCare passes, this is going to be a boon to our industry because surgeries are going to become more scarce, and people are going to want to go overseas to avoid a lot of red tape.' So, here you had an individual who was supporting a law, and he knew that the economic consequences would not be good for the healthcare system, but he sought to profit off of it by buying a huge chunk in a medical tourism company.”
The Obamacare law of 2010 also contained a provision that would give biotechnology companies a twelve-year patent protection on their drugs, rather than the traditional five years. This prompted Polis to purchase millions of dollars in biotech sector funds, which yielded him a profit of about 25%.
During Barack Obama's second term in the White House, Polis supported the executive actions which the President took in order to prevent the deportation of millions of illegals living in the U.S.—specifically, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA, 2012) and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA, 2014). Polis urged Americans to “celebrat[e]” Obama's decisions to enact these items “in light of the continued failure of this Congress to finally fix our broken immigration system.”
On October 13, 2010, Polis participated in a large-scale vigil and rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, where numerous House and Senate members were launching a new push for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path-to-citizenship for millions of illegal aliens. Also present were such notables as Xavier Becerra, Yvette Clarke, Raúl Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, Mike Honda, Robert Menendez, Michael Quigley, Jan Schakowsky, Nydia Velazquez, and Lynn Woolsey.
In November 2013, Polis participated in a National Council of La Raza event promoting immigration reform in Congress.
In May 2015, Polis was outraged when the Twin Peaks Charter Academy in Longmont, Colorado elected not to permit its valedictorian, Evan Young, to deliver his commencement address—because Young intended to use the occasion as a forum for announcing that he was a homosexual. In an aggressive open letter to the school’s administrators, Polis demanded that “reparative actions … be taken to ensure that no student at Twin Peaks is discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.” In a separate letter to Twin Peaks’ district supervisor, Polis denounced the school's actions as “violations of district policy, state law, and Evan Young’s basic right to privacy.”
Polis again sparked controversy in September 2015, when he suggested, at a subcommittee meeting about preventing rape on campus, that colleges should be able to expel students accused of sexual assault even if they are innocent. “If there are 10 people who have been accused,” said Polis, “and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We're not talking about depriving them of life or liberty; we're talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.” Polis subsequently called his remarks “a major gaffe” that “went too far.”
Also in September 2015, Polis announced that he approved of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration had recently negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the Islamist regime in Tehran to enrich uranium, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, fund terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. (For additional details about the accord, click here.) By Polis's telling, “this enforceable, verifiable agreement is the best available option to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”
Over the course of his political career, Polis has been endorsed multiple times by J Street, an organization that likewise favored the Iran nuclear deal of 2015. In October 2009, Polis spoke alongside Representatives Bob Filner and Jan Schakowsky at J Street's Annual Conference.
For an overview of Polis's voting record and issue positions during his years in Congress, click here, here, and here.
For additional information on Jared Polis, click here.