Frank Jefferson Horton, a liberal Republican who sought bipartisan cooperation in his 30 years in the House of Representatives, died Aug. 30 of a stroke at his home in Bentonville, Va. He was 84.
Representing a district in Upstate New York, Mr. Horton sponsored the Whistle Blower Protection Act of 1990, which was designed to protect federal workers exposing government fraud and waste. He was also a friend of the District of Columbia, sponsoring a bill in 1965 to grant limited home rule, including a nonvoting member of the House. The Home Rule Act, which allowed the District to elect its own officials for the first time, was passed in 1973.
Elected as a mainstream Republican during the Kennedy administration, Mr. Horton increasingly found himself out of step with his party, which grew more conservative during his time in the House. By 1990, he was voting against the Republican administration of President George H.W. Bush as much as 65 percent of the time.
Mr. Horton was easily elected to 15 consecutive terms from a district that included parts of Rochester and suburban and rural areas even after he was jailed for drunken driving in 1976. He was the ranking Republican on the Government Operations Committee, and he served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee.
As a former executive of the Rochester Red Wings, a minor league baseball franchise in his home town, Mr. Horton also argued as early as 1971 that Washington deserved a major league baseball team.
Mr. Horton was born in Cuero, Tex., and grew up in Baton Rouge, La. After graduating from Louisiana State University, he served in North Africa and Italy with the Army in World War II, reaching the rank of major. He received his law degree from Cornell University in 1947 and settled in Rochester, where he practiced law until 1962.
He was co-owner of a boys' camp in Canada and president of the Red Wings from 1957 to 1963. He also was an executive and attorney with the International League, with which the Red Wings were affiliated.
He served on the Rochester City Council from 1955 to 1961 and was elected to the House in 1962. During his three-decade tenure, Mr. Horton was known as a backroom dealmaker, often arranging for people from his state to be placed on influential committees. In his final term, he was named head of the New York delegation, even though he was one of only 13 Republicans among his state's 33 House members.
After leading an inquiry that studied 36 reports and 770 recommendations on excessive government paperwork, Mr. Horton, apparently without irony, proposed the Paperwork Reduction Act, which was passed in 1980. He led an effort in 1988 to have federal agencies adopt an office of inspector general, which he said could save the government billions of dollars. He also sought, unsuccessfully, to have the Environmental Protection Agency made a Cabinet department.
Teaming with then-Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), he introduced the Whistle Blower Protection Act in 1987. It was vetoed by President Ronald Reagan. Denouncing the veto by his own party's president as a "reprehensible act," Mr. Horton reintroduced the bill in 1989. It was enacted in 1990.
In July 1976, after a six-mile car chase that reached speeds of 105 mph, Mr. Horton was arrested in New York for drunken driving. Two women, neither of whom was his wife, were with him at the time. He served 11 days in jail. The following November, he was reelected with 66 percent of the vote.
On April 9, 1992, he released a General Accounting Office report stating that taxpayers spent $150 million for federal officials to fly on Air Force planes. The next day, he and his second wife -- one of the women in his car in 1976 -- flew on an Air Force jet to Florida for a meeting with Canadian legislators.
He decided to retire when his district was merged in 1992 with a district represented by Louise M. Slaughter (D).
His marriage to Marjorie Wilcox Horton ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy Flood Horton, and two sons from his first marriage, Frank Horton Jr. and Steven Horton.