Walter B. Jones, maverick GOP congressman, dead at 76


Jones, a once-fervent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq who later became an equally outspoken Republican critic of the war, died Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, the long-serving legislator who railed against deficit spending and advocated for the active duty military and veterans alike, died Sunday at age 76 after struggling with health problems including a broken hip.

"He was 76", the statement reads.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

At the time of his support of the Iraq War, Jones led the campaign to change the name of "french fries" and "french toast" on the menus in the three House cafeterias to "freedom fries" and "freedom toast", as a symbolic measure to hit back at France's position on the war.

Jones later filed a bill to require withdrawal of USA troops from Iraq in 2006, once it was discovered the country had no weapons of mass destruction. Jones took heat for his reversal from GOP colleagues.

"Congressman Walter Jones was a passionate patriot willing to fight for sometimes unpopular causes while remaining a humble & approachable statesman".

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In a 2013 interview with NC Policy Watch, Jones discussed the debt ceiling, gun control, immigration, and the damaging influence of Citizens United.

"Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognized that he did what he thought was right", the statement added. "He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice". His death will not get as much attention as the recent passing of former representative John Dingell, Jr., who was the longest-serving member of Congress in USA history and in honor of whom flags were at half-staff at government buildings last week.

" I worked with Congressman Jones for many years to draw down our endless wars - he served with conviction and compassion". The fiscal and social conservative won unopposed in last November's general election after fending off Republican primary challengers stoked partly by Jones' willingness to dissent from the Washington leaders of his party.

"He will be long remembered for his tireless advocacy for eastern North Carolina, which he loved dearly, and for always following his convictions, no matter the political cost", added Republican U.S. Sen.

Congress would be a more effective and probably a more moral body if it had more members like Walter Jones. Before being elected to Congress, Jones served 10 years in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Jones is a 1966 graduate of Atlantic Christian College, now Barton College. According to her Linkedin page, she works as a financial advisor in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Survivors include his wife, Joe Anne, and a daughter, Ashley.