Bert Lance

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Bert Lance
Bert Lance 1977.jpg
Lance in 1977
23rd Director of the Office of Management and Budget
In office
January 24, 1977 – September 24, 1977
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by James Thomas Lynn
Succeeded by James T. McIntyre
Personal details
Born Thomas Bertram Lance
(1931-06-03)June 3, 1931
Gainesville, Georgia
Died August 15, 2013(2013-08-15) (aged 82)
near Calhoun, Georgia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) LaBelle David (m. 1950)
Alma mater University of Georgia, LSU

Thomas Bertram "Bert" Lance (June 3, 1931 – August 15, 2013) was an American businessman who served as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter in 1977. He is known mainly for his resignation from Carter's administration due to a scandal during his first year in office; he was cleared of all charges.[1]

Early life[edit]

Lance was born in Gainesville, Georgia. His father, Thomas Jackson Lance, had served as president of Young Harris College in northeast Georgia, and in 1941 the family relocated to Calhoun, in Gordon County, when Lance's father became superintendent of that city's schools. Lance graduated from the University of Georgia in 1951. While a student at Georgia, he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He attended graduate school at LSU in Baton Rouge and Rutgers University.[2] While attending college he married LaBelle David, whose family owned the Calhoun First National Bank; they had four sons. After graduation Lance became a clerk at the bank, and within a decade became its president. He later served as president of the National Bank of Georgia in Atlanta from 1975 to 1977.

Carter administration[edit]

Lance became acquainted with Jimmy Carter during the latter's time as Governor of Georgia, and served as State Highway Director during his administration. Lance ran to succeed Carter in 1974, but lost a bid for the Democratic nomination, finishing third in the first primary behind Lester Maddox and the eventual winner, George Busbee. During the campaign, Lance accrued campaign debts of nearly $600,000.[3]

Lance (center) with National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Defense Secretary Harold Brown

Lance was an adviser to Carter during his successful 1976 presidential campaign. After Carter's victory over President Gerald Ford, Lance was named Director of the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB). According to former OMB officials, it was well known in the department that Bert Lance and President Carter prayed together every morning.

Within six months, questions were raised by the press and Congress about mismanagement and corruption when Lance was Chairman of the Board of Calhoun First National Bank of Georgia. William Safire's article written during this time, Carter's Broken Lance, earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1978.

It was an embarrassment for Carter's administration, particularly as it occurred soon after President Nixon's Watergate scandal and President Ford's pardon of Nixon just before he could be impeached. To insure there was no hint of similar impropriety in the Carter administration, Lance resigned his position. Later, after a well-publicized trial in 1980, a jury acquitted Lance on nine charges, and didn't decide two others.[4] [5]

In 1981, Lance returned to the Calhoun First National Bank as Chairman; he left in 1986. He then made something of a political comeback in 1982 when he was elected Chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party. In 1984, Walter Mondale – who was the Democratic candidate for U.S. President at the time – sought to name Lance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but was forced to withdraw his name after opposition from Democratic party members.[6] Lance's appointment as general manager of the 1984 campaign lasted only a few weeks.[7] Lance was an advisor to Jesse Jackson during Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign.[citation needed]

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."[edit]

Lance is credited with popularizing the phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", when he was quoted saying it in the May 1977 issue of the magazine Nation's Business.[8][9] The expression became widespread, and William Safire wrote that it "has become a source of inspiration to anti-activists."[10]

BCCI scandal[edit]

Lance was implicated in the BCCI scandal of the 1980s and early 1990s. He was involved in deals with notable BCCI luminaries Agha Hasan Abedi, Mochtar Riady, and Ghaith Pharaon[11] and with BCCI's largest borrower, Ponnapula Sanjeeva Prasad,[12][13] and joined with Arkansas-based power investor Jackson Stephens in facilitating BCCI's takeover of Financial General Bankshares.[14] Lance and Stephens made millions in the wake of BCCI's collapse.[15] In January 1978, Lance sold his stock in National Bank of Georgia to Ghaith Pharaon, while on the same day, BCCI founder Agha Hasan Abedi paid off Lance's $3.5 million loan at the First National Bank of Chicago. The following month, Lance helped BCCI with their hostile bid for Financial General Bankshares of Washington. The attempt failed, but three years later, BCCI secretly acquired the bank (renamed First American Bankshares) using 15 Arab investors as nominees. The next year, Lance introduced Jimmy Carter to Abedi. In 1987, First American Bankshares acquired National Bank of Georgia from Pharaon. BCCI was terminated in 1991, and it was subsequently revealed that the bank had engaged in many illegal activities, including secretly controlling several U.S. banks, in violation of federal banking statutes.[16]

Popular references[edit]

On Saturday Night Live, soon after Lance's resignation from the Carter administration, John Belushi (playing Lance) and Dan Aykroyd (playing Carter) appeared in an advertising parody of an American Express credit card commercial.[17]

On an episode of Good Times, JJ referenced Bert Lance while offering to make out a check for the family budget knowing they have no money.

In episode 50, "Making Out" of What's Happening!, Fred Berry as Rerun, confuses Bert Lance with Cyrus Vance while trying to impress a date that is a political science major. [18]

Death[edit]

Lance died on August 15, 2013 at his home in northwest Georgia at age 82. He had been in hospice care due to recent declining health.[19][20]

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Politicians who are charged with wrongdoing often not convicted". CSMonitor.com. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  2. ^ "New Georgia Encyclopedia: Bert Lance (b. 1931)". Georgiaencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  3. ^ Anchorage Daily News January 16, 1979
  4. ^ "Bert Lance acquitted on nine counts". Boca Raton News. AP. April 30, 1980. p. 2A. Retrieved 2013-08-20. Lance was found innocent on nine charges of misusing the funds of two Georgia banks he headed... the jurors could not reach a decision on two counts charging Lance lied in financial statements and one count charging that a loan Lance made to co-defendant Carr through the National Bank of Georgia was a misapplication of bank funds. 
  5. ^ "The lance affair - Jimmy Carter". Presidentprofiles.com. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  6. ^ Manatt to keep position Times Daily. July 16, 1984. Retrieved Aug. 20, 2013.
  7. ^ Gailey, Phil (August 3, 1984). "LANCE QUITS POST IN MONDALE DRIVE OVER 'OLD CHARGES'". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  8. ^ The meaning and origin of the expression: If it ain't broke, don't fix it The Phrase Finder.
  9. ^ Oxford English Dictionary entry for "Broke."
  10. ^ From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
  11. ^ "Bert Lance". Our Georgia History. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  12. ^ Niemeyer, J. "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Hadid - 947 F.2d 1153 (4th Cir. 1991)". Santa Clara Law School. Archived from the original on 2006-03-23. 
  13. ^ Niemeyer, Paul V.. "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Mohamed Anwar M. Hadid, Defendant-Appellant (Two Cases)., 947 F.2d 1153 (4th Cir. 1991)". Retrieved 2013-08-13.  Docket Numbers 90-1825,90-1844, Reporting Judge 60 USLW 2358
  14. ^ "BCCI IN THE UNITED STATES - INITIAL ENTRY AND FGB AND NBG TAKEOVERS". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2013-08-18. Stephens was both a close friend of Lance's, and a longtime activist in Democratic political circles. Stephens had been instrumental in fundraising efforts for President Jimmy Carter, who had been his classmate at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Moreover, Stephens retained a financial interest in National Bank of Georgia after Lance purchased it from FGB. 
  15. ^ New York Post, February 7, 1992, Bill Clinton Banker's BCCI Link, by Mike McAlary.
  16. ^ The Outlaw Bank: a Wild Ride Into the Secret Heart of BCCI By Jonathan Beaty, S. C. Gwynne
  17. ^ SNL Transcripts: Steve Martin: 09/24/77: National Express Card
  18. ^ IMDB
  19. ^ HERSHEY Jr., ROBERT D. (August 15, 2013). "Bert Lance, Carter Adviser, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  20. ^ Galloway, Jim (August 15, 2013). "Bert Lance, confidant of Jimmy Carter, dead at 82". Political Insider (blog). Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 13: September, 1982-August, 1984. New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1984.
  • Who's Who in America. 46th edition, 1990-1991. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1990.
  • Who's Who in Finance and Industry. 24th edition, 1985-1986. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1985.
  • Who's Who in Government. Third edition, 1977. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1977.
  • Who's Who in the South and Southwest. 15th edition, 1976-1977. Wilmette: Marquis Who's Who, 1976.
  • Who's Who in America. 48th edition, 1994. New Providence: Marquis Who's Who, 1993.
  • Who's Who in American Politics(R) [Marquis(TM)]. 17th edition, 1999-2000. New Providence: Marquis Who's Who, 1999. Use the Index to locate biographies.
  • "Thomas Bertram Lance". Almanac of Famous People (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Gale. 2011. Gale Document Number: GALE|K1601066813. Retrieved 2013-08-21.  Biography In Context. (subscription required)
Political offices
Preceded by
James T. Lynn
Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Served under: Jimmy Carter

1977–1977
Succeeded by
James T. McIntyre