Special to the Enterprise
Bert Lance, the former state highway director who helped Jimmy Carter climb to the presidency and then joined his White House administration, died Thursday evening. He was 82.
State Sen. Jason Carter, the former president’s grandson, confirmed that President Carter was notified of Lance’s death within the last few hours.
Below is the top of the excellent advance obituary that my former AJC partner, Tom Baxter, wrote before he retired:
Bert Lance, who coined the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” advised politicians from Zell Miller to Jesse Jackson, and was director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter, has died.
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.