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The Jim Santini Legacy in Special Collections: Home


Primary sources for research on Congressman Jim Santini

Special Collections is fortunate to be able to preserve and provide access to a large collections of the papers of Jim Santini. Santini's papers as Representative to the U.S. Congress from Nevada include files related to his committee assignments and interests, particularly on the Energy and Commerce Committee; Interior and Insular Affairs Committee; and Select Committee on Aging. Campaign files are included. Research materials on Jim Santini are also found in other collections of papers in Special Collections. Several photos of the Congressman while in office are also in Special Collections. More will be added as they are received or discovered.

A biographical note

James David Santini was born in Reno, Nevada on August 13, 1937. He graduated from Manogue High School in Reno in 1955 and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1959. He went on to receive his J.D. from the Hastings College of Law, San Francisco, California in 1962. Santini was admitted to the Nevada bar in 1962 and began practicing law in Las Vegas. He served in the U. S. Army from 1963-1966. He was deputy district attorney in Clark County, Nevada, 1966-1968 and a public defender in Clark County from 1968-1970. Santini went on to serve as justice of the peace in Las Vegas (1970-1972) and a district court judge in Clark County (1972-1974).

Santini was elected to the U. S. Congress as Nevada’s sole representative in 1974. A Democrat, he went on to be re-elected three more times and served until January 3, 1983. While a member of the House of Representatives, Santini served on the Energy and Commerce Committee (subcommittees: Commerce, Transportation and Tourism, and Oversight and Investigations); Interior and Insular Affairs (subcommittees: Mines and Mining [Chairman] and Public Lands and National Parks); and Select Committee on Aging (subcommittee: Housing and Consumer Interests). He was co-founder and chair of the 287 member Democratic/Republican Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus and he was a House leader in the 1981 passage of the Travel and Tourism Policy Act. Another significant piece of legislation sponspred by Santini was the Santini-Burton Act (PL 96-586) passed in 1980. Co-sponsored with California Representative Phillip Burton, the act authorized the U. S. Forest Service to acquire, by purchase and donation, sensitive lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin with receipts from the sale of surplus Federal land in the Las Vegas area.

In 1982, increased population in Nevada led to reapportionment that created an additional Congressional seat. Instead of running for a fifth term as Representative, Santini was an unsuccessful candidate for Senate in 1982. He ran for Senate again in 1986 as a Republican and lost to Democrat Harry Reid.

After his political career, Santini returned to private practice for a short time before returning to the Washington, D. C. area, where he created a firm, Santini Chartered, that represented the interests of the travel and tourism industry. He retired in 2010. Santini served as a presidential appointed member of the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Board of Trustees from 1988 until his death, September 22, 2015 in Rockville Maryland, as the result of esophogal cancer.

James D. Santini, 1937-2015