News that Gets My Goat:
I had CSPAN on for wallpaper the other day and noticed that the House General Speeches was all the Texas GOP delegation so I had to turn on the sound and see what crazy shit they were saying. I listened to Pete Olson stammering for a while and gathered that Kent Hance was retiring from his position as Chancellor of Texas Tech. This was an occasion for all the other Tories to stand up and say that Hance is ‘a wonderful human being, a great humanitarian and a personal friend of mine.’
I remember him a little differently.
Hance was an attorney and law professor from Lubbock who, after serving in the Texas Senate, ran for Congress in the 19th district in 1978. This race earned his historical footnote as the only person to beat George W. Bush in an election. He did this in part by plastering phony invitations to a ‘George Bush for Congress’ beer blast on the windshields of churchgoers in bone-dry west Texas.
Congressman Hance established a solid conservative voting record and joined the Boll Weevil Democrats faction that crossed the aisle to enact the Reagan tax cuts. In 1985 Hance switched parties to become a Republican. It was about this time that some wealthy donor took Hance and fellow party-jumper Phil Gramm to a Super bowl game. Hearing the crowd roar, Gramm told Hance “If we can lower taxes and end the deficit, they’ll cheer for us like that.” Needless to say, this didn’t happen. That would be akin to saying ‘If we lose enough weight on the beer and cheeseburger diet, we could fly.’
Hance gave up his seat to make unsuccessful races to be U.S. Senator and Texas Governor, and served on the Texas Railroad Commission (that regulates the oil business in Texas.) After his 1990 loss to Clayton Williams, (who lost to Ann Richards after making a rape joke to reporters) Hance “sought opportunities in the private sector” and he found them as a lobbyist for GOP moneybags Lonnie Pilgrim, oilfield mfr. N.L. Industries, and swiftboater Harold Simmons’ Waste Control Specialties, who won approval to build two nuclear waste dumps in West Texas.
In 2004 Hance became legal counsel to the Alabama Coushatta Tribe, who the year before paid $18 million for lobbying services to Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, a gravy train that flowed to Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and now Kent Hance. I avidly followed this scandal at the time and never saw Kent Hance’s name come up, and must say that he was never indicted, prosecuted or convicted of any wrongdoing. For all I know, the tribe hired Hance to get Abramoff’s hand out of their pocket.
In 2006 the Board of Regents of Texas Tech University appointed him Chancellor. Hance donated $1.75 million to build a chapel there that now bears his name. He achieved his goal of raising $1 billion for the University, and will retire as Chancellor this year. The University has already named him Chancellor-Emeritus.