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Orrin Hatch, who represented Utah in the Senate from 1977 to 2019, died yesterday. His foundation reviews his career here.
Orrin Hatch was, above all else, a patriot. He came from humble origins and was a senator for 42 years. I cannot add to the accolades Hatch has received, except to append a personal note. Some years ago I represented one of America’s biggest companies in a series of lawsuits against another corporate titan. As part of that effort, I accompanied corporate lobbyists and executives in a number of meetings with prominent politicians. One of them was Orrin Hatch.
One day, I was on a call with a group of client employees and lobbyists who went through the membership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The lobbyists didn’t have a relationship with Hatch, and asked whether anyone on the call had a means to communicate with him. I pondered whether to say I had gotten an email from him the day before from his personal account, and decided to remain silent. Orrin Hatch was a Power Line fan.
Shortly thereafter the lobbyists, one of them a former senator, succeeded in getting our group an appointment in Hatch’s office at noon on a weekday. When we arrived, we were told that Hatch had been detained at a committee meeting and would be working through the noon hour, but if we returned at 5:00 he would meet with us. At one point I was alone at the counter in the outer office, and one of Hatch’s aides leaned over and said to me, “The only reason the senator took this meeting is that he wants to meet you.”
We returned at 5:00 and our group of five or six were ushered into the inner sanctum. We made our pitch, and after five or ten minutes Senator Hatch stood up, indicating that our audience was at an end. We began to file out, and Hatch said, “John, you stay behind.” No doubt the others, including the former senator, were surprised. But they departed, and Hatch and I had a delightful conversation that lasted for a half hour. We talked about current events and about our country and its future. Before I left, Senator Hatch gave me a CD of patriotic songs written by him. I still have it somewhere.
Orrin Hatch was a good man and a good senator; that we didn’t always agree was immaterial. But above all he was a great patriot. I think that is how he would want to be remembered.