Merrill Cook was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah the son of scientist Melvin A. Cook who pioneered the development of slurry explosives. He graduated from East High School in 1964 and the University of Utah in 1969 and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1971. He was hired as a budget analyst by Arthur D. Little, Inc. and in 1973 founded Cook Slurry Company, a mining explosives manufacturer, of which he served as president and chief executive.
Merrill was elected to Congress in 1996 and served two terms representing the 2nd District of Utah. He held seats on the U.S. House Banking Committee, Financial Institutions Subcommittee, and Capital Markets Subcommittee for four years, dealing with the highest levels of the American financial, investment and banking industries.
As a member of the U.S. House Banking Committee Congressman Cook warned the Congress and the American people in 2000 that the Treasury line of credit offered to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and their aggressive lending practices to people who wouldn't be able to pay their mortgages, would cause a huge housing bubble with devastating consequences. The subsequent decline in home values while property taxes are still going up are terribly burdensome for Salt Lake County taxpayers.
Congressman Cook spoke out and voted against the one-sided China Permanent Most Favored Trade Status Bill that required U.S. taxpayers to stand behind corporate investments in China to relocate American manufacturing jobs and bail out any such investment in China that lost money. No such guarantees are offered to corporations investing in American to create jobs.
When the Utah legislature passed the largest tax hike in Utah history Merrill led the petition initiative drive to roll back the tax increases. While the resulting initiative ballot measure lost, both Governors Bangerter and Leavitt have said Merrill's petition work stopped additional tax increases.
Congressman Merrill Cook received a 100% rating from the National Taxpayers Union, 96% rating from Americans Against Government Waste, and 100% rating from the NRA.
He led four state-wide initiative drives in Utah for tax limitation, term limits, and E-verify.
A breakfast honoring Congressman Cook was held by 14 of Salt Lake County's municipalities' mayors and councils for Merrill's work on getting I-15 reconstructed and a number of east-west county highways widened to alleviate congestion, all done without burdening Utah's or Salt Lake County's taxpayers.
Congressman Cook worked on and passed Wasatch Front watershed protection legislation that kept the control of the maintenance of the mountain watershed protection to the high level desired by Salt Lake County's municipal and county water quality maintenance officials and kept it away from the control of the lower standard by federal officials.
Merrill was selected for the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce's maiden Leadership Utah group citing Merrill's co-founding and chief executive management of one of Utah's fastest growing manufacturing firms.
As a management consultant with Arthur D. Little (ADL) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Merrill Cook received a citation from the Chairman of ADL, and commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, General James Gavin for Merrill's management consulting work with client, General Motors, the citation noting the savings of several million dollars to GM for Merrill's work in helping the automaker arrange the platinum supply from the Rossing Uranium Mine in Africa for GM's catalytic converters.
He is married to Camille Sanders Cook and they have five children and ten grandchildren.
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