North Georgia business icon Bert Lance, who served as director for the Office of Management and Budget under Jimmy Carter, has died at age 82. Lance passed away around 5:15 Thursday evening, according to family friends.
A self-described “country banker,” Lance became a protégé of Carter’s when the future president was a state senator, and encouraged Carter to seek the White House. Lance’s meteoric career in business and politics climaxed in the early months of the Carter presidency, when he was known as the “deputy president” because of his close relationship with his fellow Georgian.
The remainder of his life was spent under the cloud of a series of investigations that began with questions about the lending practices of his bank and ultimately forced his early departure from the OMB. He later claimed, on the basis of the 400,000 pages the Justice Department gathered about his banking practices, to be the most investigated person in the nation’s history.
Former New York Times columnist William Safire, who died in 2009, won a Pulitzer Prize for his columns about what he dubbed “Lancegate.” Safire later became a friend, and compared Lance’s legal ordeals in his book, “The First Dissident,” to the sufferings of Job.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lance’s family and friends.