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U.S. Representative Barney Frank, co-author of the biggest rewrite of Wall Street rules since the Great Depression, will retire instead of seeking re-election next year, according to a statement released by his office.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, led the House Financial Services Committee during the 2008 credit crisis and was a top negotiator on the $700 billion banking-industry bailout. In 2009 and 2010, he was the lead House negotiator on what would become the Dodd-Frank Act — a 2,300 page overhaul of the U.S. financial regulatory system.

One of the first openly gay members of Congress, Frank has served in the House since 1981, representing a district that includes Boston suburbs Newton and Brookline and stretches out to cities including Taunton and Fall River.

A lawmaker who never shied away from attacks, Frank became well-known for his willingness to engage those on the other side of an issue — on the House floor, in committee hearings or through the media, often using quick wit and humor, according to Michael J. Wilson, national director for Americans for Democratic Action, a self-described “independent liberal political organization.”

“Barney Frank is an icon to liberals everywhere and even though conservatives oppose him, they know he is smarter and funnier than they are every day of the week,” Wilson said today in a statement.

Frank, 71, will make a formal announcement today at a press conference in Newton. He also will meet with reporters in Washington tomorrow, according to the statement.

Frank led the push for the regulatory overhaul that bears his name along with Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who retired from the Senate instead of seeking re-election in 2010. They shepherded the measure through a year-long battle fraught with partisan fights and fueled by millions of dollars from groups lobbying to shape the future of financial oversight.

The legislation, which included creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, regulatory oversight for the $708 trillion swaps market and new tools to wind down failing firms, was cleared for final passage in the early morning hours of June 25, 2010 after an all-night negotiating session led by Dodd and Frank. President Barack Obama signed the measure into law less than a month later.

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