Utah History Encyclopedia


By Niles T. Elwood
William H. (Bill) Orton was born 22 September 1948 to Donald W. and Caroll Orton. He attended public schools in Ogden, and later studied at Weber State College. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in Anthropology/Archaeology in 1973 and completed a Juris Doctorate from Brigham Young University in 1979.

Prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, Orton was a tax attorney in Utah and Washington, D.C. He also worked as an IRS auditor and regional training instructor, founded his own business, and served as an adjunct law professor, a corporate counsel, and a director on corporate boards. He is a former chairman of the Real Estate Tax Institute Advisory Board in Washington, D.C.

Orton is the founder and charter member of the American Inns of Court, and organization that has been sanctioned by the United States Supreme Court and now has over two hundred chapters at law schools across the nation. He is a member of the Utah, Washington, D.C., and American bar associations and has served on various task forces for the American Bar Association Tax Section. A popular speaker at continuing education programs, Bill Orton has taught courses in forty-five states to more than 15,000 tax attorneys and accounting professionals. He has also taught tax law and accounting courses at several colleges and universities.

In 1990 Republican incumbent Howard C. Nielson decided not to seek reelection to a fifth term to the Third Congressional District seat, which he had held since its creation in 1982. Orton entered the contest as a Democrat and defeated Republican Karl Snow with 58 percent of the vote in what was considered a strong Republican district. He won reelection to a second term in 1992 over Republican Richard Harrington with 62 percent of the vote.

Orton's congressional committee assignments include the seats on the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, where he serves on three subcommittees: the subcommittee on Financial Institutions Supervision, Regulation and Insurance; the subcommittee on International Development, Finance, Trade and Monetary Policy; and the subcommittee on Economic Growth and Credit Formation. He was also appointed by the Speaker of the House to the special Task Force on Government Waste, and he chairs the Conservative Democratic Forum Task Force on Tax and Budget.