Money being raised for Sen. Orrin Hatch library, public policy institute

SALT LAKE CITY — When Sen. Orrin Hatch leaves office at the end of his term, he’s going to need a home for the more than 3,000 boxes of papers he has collected during his 42 years in the U.S. Senate.

Enter the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, a private nonprofit organization set up two years ago to not only build a library for the Utah Republican senator’s papers, but also a public policy institute.

“The Hatch Center will be an incubator for policy scholarship, a forum for political discourse, a springboard for civic engagement, as well as a world-class repository of modern American legislative history,” the foundation’s website promises.

The foundation’s director, Trent Christensen, said it will be similar to the Hoover Institution, a think tank based at Stanford University in California that Republican Herbert Hoover founded in 1919 as a World War I library before he became president.

“We envision it being one of the great educational facilities, research and nonprofit think tank institutions in the country,” said Christensen, a regional finance director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Besides promoting public discussion on the issues and preparing future political leaders, the center is expected to examine the value of bipartisanship in governing, he said.

“I think the case could be made that this kind of study could be a much-needed thing for the country right now,” Christensen said.

Fundraising for the center has been underway for two years, said Scott Anderson, chairman of the foundation board, although the website surfaced just before Hatch, 83, announced his retirement in early January.

Just how much the foundation hopes to raise is also not being made public, although it could be a substantial amount. Anderson said $150 million was raised for a similar project, a library and center in Boston for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Anderson declined to detail how much money has been raised, but the most recent federal filing, through 2016, reported nearly $5.9 million. He said that figure reflects money collected by the foundation but not commitments made.

There have been questions about raising money for the center from lobbyists and corporations while Hatch is serving as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, but Anderson said steps have been taken to avoid any issues.

“All of this has been run by and approved by the Senate Ethics Committee, and we do have a law firm that counsels us on what can and can’t be done,” Anderson said. “I think what we are doing is not only legal, but ethical.”

He said Rob Walker, who served as chief counsel to both the House and Senate ethics committees, continues to be retained as outside counsel to the foundation. Walker told Politico in 2016 that “Hatch insisted it comply with applicable guidelines.”

Anderson said a Republican fundraiser who has raised money for Hatch’s campaigns, Heather Larrison, also remains involved in the foundation, although Christensen was brought on board in October to take the reigns of the project.

It’s not yet clear what impact Hatch’s announcement that …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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