Matthew J. Rinaldo, 77; 10-Term Representative

By Lauren Wiseman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Matthew J. Rinaldo, 77, a New Jersey Republican who served 10 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, died Oct. 13 at Oaks at Crane's Mill assisted living community in West Caldwell, N.J. He had Parkinson's disease.

Rep. Rinaldo, a former state senator, represented a Central New Jersey district that included the towns and suburbs of Union County, including Elizabeth and Plainfield.

His assignments included the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he became the ranking Republican on the telecommunications and finance subcommittee.

He worked on legislation to limit commercials aired during children's television programming. He also cited as a favorite accomplishment the creation of a law to prohibit countries that harbor terrorists from obtaining Export-Import Bank loans.

During his 20 years in Congress, he returned to his home in Union, N.J., almost every weekend and would spend time with his constituents, offering advice on issues such as Medicare.

"Nothing was too annoying or minor to him. He really tried to help," said his companion, Betty Garrett of South Orange, N.J.

Despite his popularity in the state and his seniority, Rep. Rinaldo decided not to run for reelection in 1992 because he said he was frustrated with the Republicans being the minority in Congress and was losing enthusiasm for the job.

Matthew John Rinaldo was born Sept. 1, 1931, in Elizabeth. He was a 1953 graduate of Rutgers University and received a master's degree in business administration from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., in 1959. He earned a doctorate in public administration from New York University in Manhattan in 1979.

He served in the New Jersey senate from 1967 until 1972. He also was member of the Union Township zoning board of adjustment from 1962 to 1963 and the Union City board of freeholders from 1963 to 1964.

In addition to Ms. Garrett, survivors include two brothers and a sister.

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