He was House Majority Leader of the Oregon State Legislature during an eight-year tenure in Salem. He was a general practice litigator working from his home town on La Grande, Ore., four hours to the east of Portland. He was a key figure on the sidelines of the power House Energy & Commerce Committee, and since May 2016 served in a key lobbying role for the NAB.
Ray Baum 's career since his 1983 graduation from law school took him from the Nation's Capital to the surf of Cannon Beach. Baum is the latest victim of cancer, and has passed away after a multi-year fight against the disease.
A devout individual, Baum was born and raised in La Grande; his family has been in Northeast Oregon since 1843. His career in politics started while obtaining his Juris Doctor from Willamette University College of Law, where he volunteered for state Rep. Robert Brogotti.
“I always loved the discussion of law and the Constitution, and I had always thought about (being involved in) public service,” Baum said in a 2016 interview with the The Observer of La Grande. “I found it fascinating.”
This led to a career in law with his brother, David Baum . Ray Baum 's son Wyatt presently oversees the La Grande-based law practice.
Baum most recently served as VP/Government Relations for the NAB, a role he earned in March 2016. Thank his ties to Oregon -- and NAB President/CEO and former Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith -- for his jump to the broadcast media industry's lead advocacy group.
Before that, Baum was a key senior policy advisor in the U.S. House of Representatives who served as Staff Director for the powerful House E&C Committee, working closely with the FCC on telecommunications and wireless issues.
Baum worked closely with his longtime friend, House E&C Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.).
Walden said, "After many years fighting cancer, Ray passed peacefully this morning surrounded by his loving family. Ray and I became fast friends nearly 30 years ago while serving in the Oregon state legislature. Ray followed me as House Majority Leader and went on to serve on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, and the Oregon Public Utility Commission where, as the lone Republican, he was named Chairman."
When Walden became chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Ray in 2011 came to Washington to work for the Energy and Commerce Committee, as Senior Policy Advisor.
Walden praised Baum for "his wisdom, guidance, and humor with the members and staff lucky enough to work with him every day ... our country are better off because of Ray ’s selfless service. Ray will be deeply missed, but he will not be forgotten. The Energy and Commerce Committee will strive to honor Ray 's legacy of decency and kindness through our work, and more importantly, by following the example Ray set through the graciousness and honor he showed every day."
The passing of Baum also impacted FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O'Reilly.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Ray Baum ," Pai said. "I had the pleasure to work with him over the past few years and was impressed by his keen intellect, fundamental kindness, and passion for advancing the public interest. He was a good man, and I will miss him. My condolences go out to Ray ’s family at this difficult time.”
O'Reilly commented, "I am incredibly sad to learn of the passing of Ray Baum , who I worked with on Capitol Hill and provided me keen advice during my early Commission days. More than a colleague, Ray was a wonderful individual with an endearing smile. While communications policy – especially the intricacies of universal service – was a unique passion, his true love remained his extended family and I pray that God provides peace to them during these difficult days.”
Baum is survived by his wife, Kristine.