Former House Speaker Jim Wright Dies at 92

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Jim Wright Getty

FORT WORTH — Former House Speaker Jim Wright died early Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Fort Worth, Texas.

Wright was 92 years old, according to a representative from Thompson’s Harveson and Cole, a funeral home in Fort Worth, who confirmed his death to CNN.

The Texas Democrat’s congressional career spanned more than three decades and he was close to two national figures from his home state — former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and former Speaker Sam Rayburn.

Wright served two years as Speaker, after Massachusetts Democrat Tip O’Neill retired. But he stepped down in 1989 after facing a House Ethics Committee investigation on improprieties with the sale of his book and fees from speaking engagements. He was the first speaker to resign in the face of a scandal.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the last Democrat to serve as Speaker, cited Wright’s military service in World War II, his long career in public service, and his work brokering a relationship with the government of Nicaragua in the 1980’s in her statement on his death on Wednesday.

“Speaker Wright was a person of deep courage, brilliant eloquence, and complete mastery of the legislative process. Speaker Wright’s strong, decisive leadership built an indelible legacy of progress, not only in his beloved state of Texas, but around the world. Wright championed prosperity for every working family, and helped lead the way to peace to Central America,” Pelosi said.

The current House Speaker John Boehner also praised Wright’s military and public service on Wednesday.

“Speaker Wright understood as well as anyone this institution’s closeness to the people, calling the House ‘the raw essence of the nation,’ ” Boehner said.