G. K. Butterfield
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from North Carolina's 1st district
July 20, 2004
|Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court|
February 5, 2001 - January 1, 2003
|I. Beverly Lake|
|Edward Thomas Brady|
April 27, 1947
Wilson, North Carolina, U.S.
(m. 1971; div. 1991)
|Education||North Carolina Central University (BA, JD)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1968-1970|
George Kenneth Butterfield Jr. (born April 27, 1947) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 1st congressional district since 2004. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected in a special election after the resignation of Frank Ballance.
His district is located in the state's northeastern corner, stretching from Durham to Elizabeth City; it includes all or parts of 24 counties. A longtime advocate on behalf of civil rights, Butterfield was appointed to be an Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court by Governor Mike Easley in 2001, retaining the position until 2003. He is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as its chair from 2015 to 2017.
GK Butterfield was born and raised in the then- segregated city of Wilson, North Carolina. Butterfield came from a prominent African American family with a long history in North Carolina. Both of Congressman Butterfield's parents were mixed race Americans. His maternal grandfather, Joe Davis, was a child of a former slave, Judah Davis, and a white man. Congressman Butterfield's mother, Addie, taught elementary school for 48 years in some of the poorest communities in North Carolina. Mrs. Butterfield was keenly focused on making sure her students learned to read--a right that was denied to many Blacks in the South.  Congressman Butterfield's father, Dr. G. K. Butterfield Sr., was an immigrant from Bermuda. As a Graduate of Meharry Dental College, Dr. Butterfield practiced dentistry for 50 years in the poor, segregated community of East Wilson. In the late 1940s, Dr. Butterfield helped found the Wilson Branch of the NAACP, in order to register Black voters in the county. In 1953, Congressman Butterfield's father became the first African American elected to the city council in Wilson, and the first Black elected official in eastern North Carolina since Reconstruction. 
Butterfield graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in Wilson, NC.  He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black university. During his time at NCCU, Congressman Butterfield was active in Voter Registration activism, including coordinating voter registration drives in Durham and organizing a student march from the State Capital in Raleigh to the Wilson County Courthouse to draw attention to the importance of voter registration. Following completion of his Bachelor's Degree, Butterfield attended he NCCU School of Law where he received a Juris Doctor degree in 1974.
During his junior year at NCCU, Congressman Butterfield was drafted into the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg Army installation in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He served from 1968 to 1970  and was later honorably discharged from the Army and returned to NCCU to complete his undergraduate degree. 
In describing his racial identity as a black man, he has pointed to his African heritage, as a direct descendant of slaves. G.K. points to his childhood experience growing up in racially segregated North Carolina living in "East Wilson" where he attended black schools. Additionally, he spent his childhood as a firsthand witness to the disenfranchisement of his black community originating as part of a targeted campaign to remove his father from the Board of Alderman. He is the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
After completing law school, Congressman Butterfield began a 14 year legal career as a civil rights attorney practicing across eastern North Carolina. During this time he was able to develop his reputation winning several voting rights cases.
In 1988, Butterfield was elected as Resident Superior Court judge in the judicial district 7BC. Beginning on January 1, 1989 and for the next twelve years, he presided over civil and criminal court in 46 counties of North Carolina. In February 2001, he was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court by Governor Mike Easley. In 2002, Butterfield lost his seat on the Supreme Court but returned to the Superior Court bench by special appointment of Governor Easley and served in that position until his retirement in May 2004 to run for the US House of Representatives.
Butterfield serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and formerly served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Agriculture Committee. He is the Region VIII representative on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Beginning in 2007 in the 110th Congress, Butterfield was chosen to serve as one of eight Chief Deputy Whips for the House Democratic Caucus. Chief Deputy Whips assist in the formulation of Democratic policy and ensure the passage of legislation by maintaining good communication with members. He was appointed to this position by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, G.K. Butterfield advocated for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Butterfield supports "a market-based approach to capping carbon emissions" and wants to broaden the United States' sources of energy. On his website, Butterfield stresses the need to find more clean and domestic sources of energy.
A strong supporter of civil rights, he advocated renewal of the Voting Rights Act and "introduced a bill calling for the Capitol Visitor's Center to acknowledge the slave labor used to build the Capitol."
In 2009, Butterfield introduced the Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act "to assist states in carrying out inspections of lodging facilities, train inspection personnel, contract with a commercial exterminator; educate owners and staff at lodging facilities." Butterfield also passed H.R. 4252 "To amend the Small Business Act to change the net worth amount under the small business program for socially and economically disadvantaged individuals from $750,000 to $978,722, and for other purposes."
Butterfield supported the Affordable Care Act, and worked with the Energy and Commerce Committee to help write the legislation. During the discussion of the bill in Congress, Butterfield complained about the lack of cooperation from the Republican party.
Butterfield supports increasing taxes for higher-income families while decreasing taxes for middle and low-income families. Although he is an advocate for using government stimulus in order to improve the economy, Butterfield wants to reduce government regulations on the private sector.
In 2008 Planned Parenthood gave Butterfield an 80 percent ranking. In 2009 Butterfield supported the interests of NARAL Pro-Choice America 100 percent of the time. Butterfield identifies as pro-choice and especially supports legalized abortion when the life of the woman is in danger or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
Butterfield has repeatedly voted against defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, voting against the Marriage Protection Act of 2004 and constitutional marriage amendments in 2004 and 2006. He has voted to ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 2010 voted for the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.
In 2011, he voted to extend expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act and voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.
In 2012, Butterfield introduced legislation that, if passed, would require more input from the public before tolls are introduced on roads. His legislation is in response to the "No toll on I-95" group, which is a Roanoke Rapids-based group that opposes instating a toll on I-95. Opponents of the toll argue that it leads to double taxation, and say it is the first time "the federal government has put tolls on an existing interstate."
On July 23, 2014, Butterfield introduced House Joint Resolution 120, approving the location of a memorial to commemorate the more than 5,000 slaves and free black persons who fought for independence in the American Revolution.
Butterfield was elected to Congress in a special election on July 20, 2004 to fill the unexpired term of Representative Frank W. Ballance, Jr., who resigned for health reasons. He defeated Republican candidate Greg Dority and Libertarian Party nominee Tom Eisenmenger. Butterfield was sworn into office on July 21, 2004.
On July 20, 2004, Butterfield won the Democratic primary entitling him to run in the November 2004 general election. Running against Dority again, he won his first full term with 64% of the popular vote.
Butterfield was unopposed for reelection in 2006.
Butterfield won against Dean Stephens with 70.28% of the vote.
Butterfield defeated Republican nominee Ashley Woolard.
Butterfield sought re-election in 2012; the district was expected to strongly favor Democrats.
In April 2012, Butterfield accompanied President Obama to speak at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to speak about extending the current interest rates on federal loan program for many undergraduate students. Butterfield expressed concern with the pending expiration, saying: "Allowing the current interest rates to expire would burden students with additional debt, prolong their ability to kick start their careers, and send the message that it is more important to cut taxes for the wealthy than educational expenses for our young people."
In 1971, Butterfield married Jean Farmer. Jean has been a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives representing House district 24 since 2003. He and Jean divorced in 1991. G.K. is the father of three adult daughters, Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Lenai and Tunya
His daughter Valeisha is married to NBA player Dahntay Jones. They have two children, Dahntay Jr. and Dillon. Additionally, his daughter Tunya Michelle Butterfield Smith and her husband, Chris Smith, have twin sons, Gavin and Chase.
G.K. Butterfield is a lifelong member of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church in Wilson, North Carolina, where he has served as Trustee and Chairman of the Finance Ministry. Butterfield also serves on the Board of Visitors for the North Carolina Central University School of Law and as a Trustee of Gallaudet University.  He is also a member of Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Incorporated.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from North Carolina's 1st congressional district
| Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
|Party political offices|
as House Democratic Assistant to the Majority Whip
| House Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip
Served alongside: Jan Schakowsky
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority