Bert Lance: Banker who joined Jimmy Carter's 'Georgia mafia'

 

Bert Lance was a genial Georgia banker who became President Jimmy Carter's budget director, only to be forced out after less than a year. Lance, who called himself a "country banker," was one of the more colourful members of the "Georgia mafia" that arrived in Washington after Carter was elected in 1976. He had been part of Carter's inner circle since the 1960s and had reportedly been the first person to recommend that Carter run for president. He was rewarded with the plum post of director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The affable Lance, who had been a fund-raiser for Carter's 1970 gubernatorial campaign, made an immediate impression on buttoned-up Washington and was credited with popularising the phrase, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." He became one of Carter's closest advisers, but concerns about his personal finances arose. He was called a "country slicker" in the press and was said to shuffle money around like a blackjack dealer.

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee grilled Lance over allegations that he had misused bank funds, obtained loans at favourable rates and used a company plane to fly to University of Georgia football games. People in his home town of Calhoun rallied, waving signs that read, "Don't Treat Bert Like Dirt." Several senators called for him to resign, though, which he did in September 1977.

Lance went back to Georgia, where he was arraigned on federal charges that could have sent him to prison for 95 years for conspiracy, fraud and assorted violations of banking laws. He was acquitted of nine of the 12 charges. The other three were later dropped.

Before his downfall, Lance had been expected to run for governor of Georgia and was said to have been on a shortlist of vice presidential candidates. He went on to chair the Georgia Democratic Party and briefly directed the campaign of Democratic nominee Walter Mondale in 1984.

He was investigated by a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission and resigned as chairman of his small-town bank in 1986 after being charged with "unsafe and unsound" banking practices and misappropriation of funds. He was fined $50,000 and barred from working at a bank. Over the years, he was investigated by eight federal bodies but was never convicted of a crime. He later worked as a consultant and remained friendly with Carter.

Thomas Bertram Lance, banker: born Gainesville or Young Harris, Georgia 3 June 1931; married LaBelle David (three sons, and one son deceased); died Calhoun, Georgia 15 August 2013.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links