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Dick Thornburgh, ex-Pa. governor and U.S. attorney general, dies


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#Dick #Thornburgh, who as #Pennsylvania governor won plaudits for his cool handling of the 1979 #Three #Mile #Island crisis and as U.S. attorney general restored credibility to a #Justice #Department hurt by the #Iran-Contra scandal, has died. #He was 88.

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#Thornburgh died #Thursday morning at a retirement community facility outside #Pittsburgh, his son #David said. The cause is not yet known. #He suffered a mild stroke in #June 2014.

#Thornburgh built his reputation as a crime-busting federal prosecutor in #Pittsburgh and as a moderate #Republican governor. #As the nation’s top law enforcement official, he prosecuted the savings and loan scandal. #He also shepherded the #Americans with #Disabilities #Act; one of his sons had been severely brain damaged in an auto accident.

#After leaving public office, #Thornburgh became a go-to troubleshooter who helped CBS investigate its news practices, dissected illegalities at telecommunications company #WorldCom and tried to improve the #United #Nations’ efficiency.

“I’ve always had an opportunity to right a vessel that was somewhat listing and taking on water,” he told The #Associated #Press in 1999. “I wouldn’t object to being characterized as a ‘Mr. #Fix #It.’ I’ve liked the day-in, day-out challenges of governance.”

#President #Ronald #Reagan appointed #Thornburgh attorney general in the waning months of his administration. #Thornburgh succeeded the embattled #Edwin #Meese III, who was investigated by a special prosecutor for possible ethics violations, and his appointment in #August 1988 was hailed on #Capitol #Hill as an opportunity to restore the agency’s morale and image.

#He was asked to stay on as attorney general when #George H.W. #Bush became president in 1989.

#Thornburgh ran into trouble with the press and members of #Congress who were put off by his imperious manner. #He also battled liberals and conservatives in #Congress over #Justice #Department appointments.

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#Despite the difficulties, #Thornburgh enjoyed the continued backing of #President #Bush and won unprecedented increases from #Congress in the #Justice #Department’s budget to fight crime.

The prosecution of savings and loan operators and borrowers increased during his tenure as the nation faced a growing crisis in the thrift industry. #He set up securities fraud and S&L task forces in several major cities.

#Also under #Thornburgh, the #Justice #Department pursued the prosecution of deposed #Panamanian dictator #Manuel #Noriega, who was brought to #Miami to face drug trafficking charges after a U.S. invasion.

#Thornburgh tried to halt unauthorized leaks of information about criminal investigations, but he ran into trouble in the spring of 1989 when CBS #News aired a story that the FBI was investigating the congressional office of #Rep. #William #Gray, D-Pa. The story produced expressions of outrage among #Democrats because it was aired when #Gray was seeking to be elected #House majority whip.

#An internal investigation later showed that #Thornburgh’s own chief spokesman played a role in confirming the story.

#As #Pennsylvania governor from 1979 to 1987, #Thornburgh won a reputation as a squeaky-clean, reform-minded executive who cut the state government’s payroll, but his defining moment came barely two months into office.

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#In #March 1979, he was confronted with the worst nuclear accident in #American history when a routine equipment failure at the #Three #Mile #Island power plant turned into a partial meltdown, which released radioactive elements.

#Thornburgh agonized over whether to order an evacuation of the area around the plant. #He recalled years later that “some people were telling us more than they knew and others were telling us less than they knew.”

#He eventually ordered pregnant women and young children to leave an area five miles around the plant, which caused thousands of others near #Harrisburg to flee.

#His cool handling of the 10-day crisis was credited with averting panic.

#He was praised in later years for recognizing that #Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry was fading and pumping state money into economic development for new businesses.

#Thornburgh’s career in government services stretched back to the 1960s. #He was U.S. attorney in western #Pennsylvania from 1969 to 1975, prosecuting drug traffickers, organized crime figures and corrupt politicians.

#From 1975 to 1977, he was assistant attorney general in charge of the #Justice #Department’s criminal division, where he stepped up federal prosecutions of public corruption in the post-Watergate era.

#He showed his sense of humor at events during his first gubernatorial campaign in 1978, mocking the state #Legislature’s generous compensation to the tune of “My #Favorite #Things.” “Nice big fat paychecks and liberal pensions / #Fringes and perks that we won’t even mention …” #As attorney general, he referred to white-collar crime as “crime in the suites,” as opposed to streets.

#When #Thornburgh left the U.S. attorney general post in 1991, he made a run for U.S. #Senate, losing to #Harris #Wofford in the general election.

The election landed #Thornburgh in a courtroom in #Texas, where #Karl #Rove, one of #George W. #Bush’s closest advisers, sued him to try to get back nearly $300,000 in back campaign debts. #Thornburgh lost in court, appealed and eventually settled the case.

#In 1992, #Thornburgh accepted a top administrative job at the #United #Nations to fight bureaucratic excess and corruption. #He left the job after his one-year contract ended, expressing frustration at inefficiency and saying the U.N. is “almost totally lacking in effective means to deal with waste, fraud and abuse by staff members.”

#In recent years, #Thornburgh was tapped to investigate wrongdoing in the corporate world.

#In 2002, the #Justice #Department tapped #Thornburgh to help investigate #WorldCom for mismanagement, irregularities and fraud. #He described the company, which made the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, as “the poster child of corporate governance failures.”

#Thornburgh was co-leader of an investigation conducted by CBS when its “60 #Minutes #Wednesday” program used faked documents to bolster a 2004 story that questioned #George W. #Bush’s #Vietnam #War-era military service. The probe’s damning final report led to the firing of three news executives.

#Richard #Lewis #Thornburgh was born #July 16, 1932, and grew up in #Rosslyn #Farms, near #Pittsburgh. #He trained as an engineer at #Yale, seeking to follow his civil-engineer father’s footsteps, but went to law school at the #University of #Pittsburgh.

#Upon graduation, he went to work as a corporate lawyer, later joining the law firm of #Kirkpatrick and #Lockhart.

#Thornburgh married his childhood sweetheart, #Virginia “Ginny” #Hooton, in 1955. #She was killed in an automobile crash in 1960 that left one of their three sons, #Peter, severely brain damaged.

#Three years later, #Thornburgh married #Ginny #Judson, who raised his three sons and bore another, #William. (#He wrote in his memoir that “Ginny and my first wife shared not only a name but many characteristics that would no doubt have made them fast friends.”)

#He said the accident was a defining moment that forced him to refocus his life on what his mission and legacy would be.

#Both he and his second wife became active in programs for the disabled. #In 1985, the #Thornburghs were named “Family of the #Year” by the #Pennsylvania #Association for #Retarded #Citizens.

#Five years later, the #Americans #With #Disabilities #Act was signed into law after #Thornburgh played a key role in negotiating compromises with #Congress.

#Categories:
#News | #Pennsylvania | #Top #Stories



[ source link ]
https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/dick-thornburgh-ex-pa-governor-and-u-s-attorney-general-dies/

##Dick ##Thornburgh #exPa #governor #attorney #general #dies

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