Former President Jimmy Carter adviser Bert Lance dies

Aug. 16, 2013 at 8:17 AM
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CALHOUN, Ga., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Bert Lance, Jimmy Carter's close friend and adviser who faced bank fraud accusations, has died, the former president confirmed. He was 82.

Lance died Thursday at his home in Calhoun, Ga., Gordon County deputy coroner Heath Derryberry said. The cause of Lance's death wasn't reported, though he had been in failing health and was receiving hospice care, the coroner said.

Less than a year after his appointment to the Office of the Management and Budget under Carter's administration, Lance faced allegations he obtained a sweetheart loan from the First National Bank of Chicago by placing money from the National Bank of Georgia -- of which he was president -- in an account paying no interest, The New York Times said. He was also accused of using a National Bank of Georgia corporate plane for personal trips to attend University of Georgia football games.

Lance was also investigated for allegedly preventing the Justice Department from investigating whether the Georgia bank helped finance his 1974 campaign for governor, the Times said.

Lance, who coined the phrase,"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," resigned from his position after the allegations and though he was indicted on conspiracy charges and a dozen counts of banking irregularity, he was not convicted.

He later went on to serve as adviser to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and was once under consideration to serve as running mate to presidential candidate Walter Mondale.

Carter, Georgia governor when Lance was state highway director, issued a statement about Lance's death, calling his friend "one of the most competent and dedicated public servants I have ever known.

"Bert was one of the closest personal friends I have ever had, and was always a fountain of sound advice about the most detailed issues of our state and nation. His never failing sense of humor and ability to make thousands of friends were just two of the sterling qualities that made knowing Bert such a valuable part of our lives," said the statement, published by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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