Michael Patrick Forbes of Round Rock, Texas and Quogue, Long Island, was born on 16 July 1952 at Riverhead, Long Island, New York to Kenneth and Jane (née Morrissey) Forbes. He is the grandson of Carrie Bowman, a Broadway actress, and T. Harold Forbes, an actor and song and dance man who became a well-known newspaper publisher in New Rochelle and Long Island, NY. Forbes graduated from the SUNY Albany, Saint Paul University and the University of Ottawa. He received an honorary Doctor of Law from Long Island University and, more recently, spent five years in formation and theological studies for the Permanent Diaconate in the Catholic Diocese of Austin. Forbes got his start in politics as an assistant to New York State Assembly Speaker Perry B. Duryea, Jr.. He was a senior aide and close advisor to Republicans U.S. Sen. Al D'Amato and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack. In 1979, Forbes joined the George H.W. Bush campaign as a volunteer in New York and again, in 1987, campaigned statewide in Maine for Bush to succeed Ronald Reagan. President Bush appointed Forbes to a senior post at the United States Small Business Administration in 1989. He served four years, leaving in 1993 when the Clinton administration came into office.
Forbes remains heavily involved as a board member and committee member of the not-for-profit Camp Agawam, an alumni-owned summer camp in Raymond, Maine. He continues a passionate love for the camp he first attended in 1965, volunteering and advocating as it approaches 100 years of forming young men into future leaders.
In 1994, Forbes ran on three ballot lines for the House of Representatives: Republican, Conservative, and Right to Life. Campaigning as a fiscal conservative, he defeated popular incumbent George Hochbrueckner by six percentage points. Forbes got a seat on the powerful Appropriations committee, unusual for a freshman Representative, due to his ties with new House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In December 1996, after Gingrich was cited for gross campaign irregularities, Forbes became the first Republican to announce he was not going to vote for Gingrich for speaker. Forbes voted for moderate Rep. Jim Leach instead. Despite his record of support for a number of President Clinton's programs, Forbes voted for the Clinton impeachment.
On July 17, 1999, Forbes switched to the Democratic Party after chastising national Republicans for being "tone deaf" to the needs of average Americans. While embraced nationally by President Bill Clinton, Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Max Cleland, and other Senate and House Democrats, New York's liberal Democrats (particularly chairwoman Judith Hope) refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he would not change his long-held belief in prohibiting abortion.
Activists in the Suffolk County Democratic Party recruited a 71-year-old librarian, Regina Seltzer, to challenge Forbes in the 2000 Democratic primary. Seltzer won a court ruling halting state Democratic Party ads for Forbes.
Seltzer won the 2000 primary election by 35 votes after national and state Republicans funneled $250,000 to the Seltzer effort. Seltzer was then defeated by Republican Felix Grucci in the November election. Grucci served a single term in Congress, being defeated in 2002 by Democrat Tim Bishop, who served until 2015.
Forbes is married to Barbara Ann (Blackburn) Forbes and has four children and six grandchildren. In his post-Congress years, Forbes worked as a public relations executive, opening his own firm in 2001. His clients included defense industry contractors, financial services, Internet payment providers, non-profit children's home, and other small businesses seeking Federal appropriations. He has also blogged for the Huffington Post.
In 2008, he entered five years of formation and theological study to become a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. He was ordained clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez on April 13, 2013. He serves at Saint William Catholic Church, Round Rock, Texas.
Forbes earned in 2016 both ecclesiastical and civil degrees in canon (Church) law, the iuris canonici licentiate (J.C.L.) and a Masters in Canon Law (M.C.L.) from Saint Paul University, Ottawa, and the University of Ottawa, respectively. He is a full-time judge on the ecclesiastical court of the Diocese of Austin. Deacon Forbes is a member of the Canon Law Society of America, the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Canadian Canon Law Society.