* Prior to launching his political career, Davis worked as a U.S. Postal Service clerk (1961-65), a teacher and counselor in the Chicago Public Schools (1962-69), and executive director of the Greater Lawndale Conservation Commission (1969). Also during the ’60s, Davis became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1966 he met Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago and worked with him on a campaign against discriminatory housing regulations. Davis subsequently became the director of training at the Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center in New York (1969-71), a consultant (1971-72) and executive director (1972-79) at West Side Health Planning in Chicago, and a special assistant/president at the Mile Square Community Health Center in Chicago (1976-81).
* In 1997 Davis urged support for Congressman Matthew Martinez’s Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act, which proposed to use $250 billion in federal funds for the establishment of union-wage jobs rebuilding infrastructure (e.g., schools, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, and parks). Martinez had previously introduced this bill in 1995 at the the request of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, whose leaders were all supporters or members of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA).
* In 2004 in Washington, DC, Davis participated in a “coronation” ceremony honoring the spiritual leader Sun Myung Moon, who had previously raised several thousand dollars for Davis’s political activities. At this event, Davis delivered a speech and donned white gloves while assisting in Moon’s actual crowning.
* In 2005 Davis and an aide took a seven-day trip to Sri Lanka, purportedly to investigate charges that one region of that country was not receiving an equitable share of foreign-aid funds in the aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami that had devastated the region. Davis’s travel expenses were covered by the Tamil Tigers, a Marxist-Leninist group that the U.S. government classified as a terrorist organization, due in part to its use of suicide bombers and child soldiers. On his required congressional disclosure form, however, Davis indicated that the trip was paid for by an Illinois-based Tamil cultural organization, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America. The matter later came under scrutiny in August 2006, when eleven Tamil Tiger supporters were arrested on charges of conspiring to aid the terrorist group by means of money laundering, arms procurement, and bribing U.S. officials. Taking issue with the State Department’s designation of the group as a terrorist entity, Davis said: “The Tamil Tigers would be called ‘freedom fighters’ by many people throughout the world… The Tamils were always a minority who said they were discriminated against by the majority, the same way black folks were discriminated against by slave-owners, or groups in Ireland were discriminated against by the dominant group.”
* On October 29, 2006, Davis was an Honoring Committee memberat the CCDBR’s “Celebration of the The Dynamic Life of Frank Wilkinson (1914-2006).” The honoree had been a leader of the CPUSA, the DSA, and the New American Movement.
* In October 2006, the Sunlight Foundation reported that in 2005-6, Davis’s campaign committee had paid the congressman’s wife, Vera Davis, some $10,543 to serve as the campaign’s treasurer. Mrs. Davis continued to hold that position through subsequent campaigns. It was eventually learned, however, that the financial records of those campaigns contained some serious errors. As the Chicago Tribunereported in December 2013:
“Vera Davis, the congressman’s wife and treasurer of his congressional campaign committee, [has] filed multiple amended reports to the Federal Election Commission to show that the committee did not transfer $25,604.14 to a state committee operated by Davis, despite having disclosed such a disbursement to the FEC in 2010 year-end reports…. Additionally, Rep. Davis said a $59,106.77 deposit listed on a state disclosure report as a transfer from his congressional campaign to his mayoral campaign was in fact a bulk deposit of contributions that had been collected via PayPal…. The Tribune‘s review of Davis’ campaign finance records also found that Citizens for Davis did not properly disclose about $17,000 in credit card charges the committee paid since 2009.”
* In 2007, Davis was one of 90 Members of Congress who signed an open letter delivered to President Bush, stating: “We will only support appropriating funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq during Fiscal Year 2008 and beyond for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq before you leave office.” The letter was initiated by the Peace Pledge Coalition, an alliance led by such notables as Medea Benjamin, Bill Fletcher, Kevin Zeese, and representatives of the Progressive Democrats of America, Democrats.com, AfterDowningStreet.org, Velvet Revolution, and the Backbone Campaign.
* In November 2010, Davis and 15 other congressional Democratsmet—either personally or through their respective staffers—with three supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack (FRSO/FB). Those FRSO/FB supporters, representing the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, expressed their condemnation of “the FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas of people doing international solidarity work and anti-war organizing.” It was reported that Davis and his 15 colleagues in Congress expressed “genuine concern” about the situation.
* In 2012 Davis urged voters in Chicago to support Democrat Derrick Smith for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, even though federal prosecutors had recorded Smith accepting a $7,000 cash bribe from a government informant in exchange for writing a letter in support of a state grant for a day care center. “It was a very unfortunate situation and circumstance,” said Davis, who favored Smith over the latter’s Democratic primary opponent, Tom Swiss, because Swiss was a former chairman of the Cook County Republican Party. By Davis’s reckoning, Swiss “was kind of making use of a bit of subterfuge which would give you no reason to think he would be a Democrat.”
* In May 2013, Davis—despite mountains of evidence indicating that from 2010-12 the Internal Revenue Service had delayed or denied the processing of tax-exempt-status applications it had received from hundreds of conservative organizations—Davis said at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the scandal: “After listening to all of the discussion and reading all of the information that I’ve read, I am not convinced that this is a great big political conspiracy. I would certainly admit that there has been some ineptitude, there has been some lack of serious management procedures used and adhered to.”
* When asked in 2018 about Louis Farrakhan’s well-documented history of using anti-Semitic rhetoric, Davis dismissively replied that many people in politics have been known to make inflammatory comments.
* In a March 2018 interview, Davis stated that he was not bothered by Farrakhan’s position on “the Jewish question.”