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Interview with T. Rogers Wade, January 28, 2011

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Our guest is T. Rogers Wade, former chief of staff for Senator Herman Talmadge, and currently chair of the board of trustees at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation...

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee T. Rogers Wade

00:00:42 - Explanation of name / Introduction to political career

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Partial Transcript: I notice you have an initial in your given name--is there a story there?

Segment Synopsis: Rogers explains his he came to be called by his middle name and his entry into politics

Keywords: Chattanooga, Tennessee; Given name; History; McCallie School; Preacher; Public Affairs; University of Georgia

00:03:10 - Talmadge's character / Talmadge's relationship with Hubert Humphrey

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Partial Transcript: You served as Chief of Staff for Senator Talmadge in Washington for a number of years.

Segment Synopsis: Wade describes Talmadge as a intellectual and discusses Talmadge's relationship with Hubert Humphrey, who returned to the Senate after serving as vice president

Keywords: "The Hill"; 1948 Democratic Convention; Agriculture Committee; Atlanta Journal Constitution; Christmas; Debates; Democratic Policy Committee; Democrats; Experiment Station; Herbert Hoover; Jacob J. Javits; Junior senator; Real estate; Russell Senate Office Building; South Georgia

00:10:02 - Working for Talmadge

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Partial Transcript: How was, uh, Senator Talmadge to work for?

Segment Synopsis: Wade details the work environment in Talmadge's office, including Talmadge's notoriously early hours and standards

Keywords: Combat boots; Jogging; Legislative assistant; Loyalty; Mattie Thurmond Talmadge; Senate finance committee; fatigues

00:15:11 - Death of Talmadge's son

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you mentioned Bobby's death, his son Bobby drowned in, I think, Lake Lanier...

Segment Synopsis: Wade discusses the impact of the death of Talmadge's son on Talmadge's career and relationship with his wife, Betty

Keywords: Betty Shingler Talmadge; Death; Drowning; Lake Lanier; Marriage; Mourning; Richard Nixon; Robert S. Talmadge; Samuel Nunn Jr.

00:16:56 - Service on the Watergate Committee

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Partial Transcript: Senator Talmadge made quite a name for himself during the Watergate hearings.

Segment Synopsis: Wade explains Talmadge's reluctance to serve on the Senate Watergate Committee, though his questioning during the hearings was generally lauded.

Keywords: Campaign; Cover-up; Daniel K. Inouye; Dwight Eisenhower; Executive privilege; Fred Fielding; Fred Thompson; Howard Baker; James Hamilton; Lyndon B. Johnson; Majority leader; Mike Mansfield; Richard Nixon

00:22:20 - Political causes / Segregation

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Partial Transcript: You know, Senator Talmadge was, uh, I guess you could say silent force behind some of the most progressive legislation passed while he was up there in the Senate.

Segment Synopsis: Wade discusses some of Senator Talmadge's political causes, specifically agricultural interests, and comments on his defense of racial segregation, then "the law of the land."

Keywords: "Race card"; Agricultural Committee; Black leaders; Busing; Civil rights; Daddy King; Job growth; Martin Luther King Sr.; Poultry; Progressive legislation; Progressive politics; Quotas; REA; Road work; Rural Electrification Administration; Rural development; Sales tax; Schools; Separate But Equal; Socialism; Timber; Traditions; Walter F. George

00:28:06 - Talmadge's personal crises

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Partial Transcript: I believe it was in 1979 when Senator Talmadge had a problem with the Senate Ethics Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Wade reflects on a series of personal crises for Talmadge, including his son's death, the end of his marriage, and a drinking problem, which preceded an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Keywords: Alcohol; Alcoholism; Betty Shingler Talmadge; Divorce; Farm; Liquor; Robert Talmadge; Senate ethics committee; State Department; Teetotaler

00:32:09 - Accusations of financial misconduct

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Partial Transcript: We found--and it's something I caution every human to do when they take over a job like Chief of Staff...

Segment Synopsis: Wade speaks of the allegations of Talmadge's campaign finance misconduct, explaining that Talmadge's administrative assistant was responsible for opening a fraudulent account without Talmadge's knowledge

Keywords: Audit; Bank accounts; Bookkeeping; Budget; Chief of Staff; Embezzlement; Fraud; Fundraising; Georgians for Talmadge; IBM Selectric; James Hamilton; Riggs Bank; Secretary of the State; Signing machine; Solicitation calls; Talmadge for Georgia; Treasury Department; Trust Company of Georgia; Typewriter

00:39:03 - Alcoholism / Conclusion of Ethics Committee hearings

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Partial Transcript: The, uh, Ethics Committee hearing drug on for over a year--in the process of that, Senator Talmadge's alcoholism was recognized by him, by others...

Segment Synopsis: Wade tells of an intervention staged for Talmadge and discusses the conclusion of the Ethics Committee's investigation, specifying that Talmadge was ultimately denounced for "bad conduct" due to his hiring of the administrative assistant responsible for the fraud.

00:42:44 - 1980 re-election campaign and run-off

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Partial Transcript: Well, that brings us to 1980...

Segment Synopsis: Wade describes a contentious primary against Zell Miller in Talmadge's 1980 Senate re-election campaign.

Keywords: Appeals court; Campaign strategist; Chalres Campbell; Congress; Congressman; General election; Lieutenant Governor; Political debate; Run-off; Russell King; Television; Tom Murphy; Treasurer

00:51:08 - Talmadge's defeat in 1980 general election / Wade leaves Washington, D.C.

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Partial Transcript: There was some concern at the time about, uh, Senator Talmadge's return to Washington and sort of not campaigning...

Segment Synopsis: Wade describes Talmadge's ultimate defeat in the 1980 election and his work after leaving Talmadge's staff.

Keywords: 1980 election; CFTC; Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Employment; Georgia Public Policy Foundation; Political ads; Senate campaign; Television advertisements; Washington, D.C.

00:55:32 - Talmadge's ex-wife testifies against Senator Talmadge

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Rogers, before we get into that, let's talk about the overcoat.

Segment Synopsis: Wade explains that Talmadge's ex-wife, Betty, claimed in her testimony that she found a stack of $100 bills in Talmadge's overcoat pockets, though Wade states that the bills in question were printed two years after the alleged financial misconduct.

Keywords: Campaign funds; Cash contributions; Congress; Divorce; Exonerated; Exoneration; Grand jury; Houston Federal Reserve; Lady Bird Johnson; Liz Carpenter; Perjury; Political cartoons; Silver certificates; Treasury seals

01:01:47 - Beginning of work with Georgia Public Policy Foundation

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Partial Transcript: Okay, now, let's get back to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Segment Synopsis: Wade explains how he came to serve as the Georgia Public Policy Foundation's president for fourteen years, though he initially intended to take only an interim role, and describes the public policy mission of the foundation.

Keywords: Blue state; Business people; Center-right; Delta Airlines; Democrats; Fiscal conservative; Free market; Heart attack; Henry F. “Hank” McCamish Jr.; High office; Insurance; Non-profit; Public policy; Red state; Republicans; Social issues; Taxation; Taxes; Three-star general; United States Army War College

01:07:57 - Georgia Public Policy Foundation's key issues

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Partial Transcript: So your organization basically researches issues like taxes.

Segment Synopsis: Wade details some of the key issues investigated by the foundation, with a particular emphasis on the promotion and success of charter schools in the Atlanta Public School (APS) system.

Keywords: Atlanta, Georgia; Bell South; Board of Education; Education; Emory University; Fact-finding; General assembly; Georgia Tech; Government surplus; Grammar School; Interbasin transfer; Lobbying; Lobbyists; MIT; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Math and science; No Excuses Schools; Notre Dame University; Outliers; Outstanding Service Award; Poverty; Principals; Public school; Road work; Roy Barnes; Scholarships; Single parents; Superintendent; Teachers; Tech High School; Water works; Wet labs

01:16:14 - Transparency in government

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Partial Transcript: I think you'll agree that, uh, government is more and more about money and less and less about efficiency.

Segment Synopsis: Wade opines on the need for greater transparency and efficiency in government, using the overlap in subject-area study at several Georgia universities as an example.

Keywords: Agricultural engineering; Buzzword; City government; County government; Crisis; Economy; Engineering; FOIA; Freedom of Information Act; Institutional silos; Land grant college; MBA; Master of Business Administration; Mathematics; Medical college; Rahm Emanuel; Research universities; Southern Company Nuclear; State government

01:25:04 - Changes in Georgia's economy / The Tea Party

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Partial Transcript: What do you do when people insist on maintaining their services but refuse to pay taxes, or, or, or don't want to pay more taxes?

Segment Synopsis: Wade speaks about technology as an impetus for change in Georgia's economy and compares the Tea Party with previous movements outside the two-party system

01:30:59 - Transition from blue state to red state

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about Georgia for a minute.

Segment Synopsis: Wade discusses the changes in political ideology within Georgia and speculates that Southern democrats from the 20th century would identify as Republicans today.

Keywords: "Hyphenated democrats"; "Russell democrat"; Conservative; Factions; Hypocrisy; Liberals; National democrats; Organized labor; Urban

01:35:41 - Final thoughts / Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well Rogers, it's been a pleasure having you.

Segment Synopsis: The interview concludes, with Wade offering support for Georgia's new governor Nathan Deal

Keywords: Georgia politics