When it comes to running a campaign and understanding how to manage his political image, Dewhurst is more out of place than a toy poodle at a raccoon hunt. But while his quirks and missteps are legion, his personal history suggests he might just be able to overcome them and become the next lieutenant governor. SO WHO IS THIS GUY? Ever since he was a teenager, David Henry Dewhurst III has wanted to be rich. Perhaps that is due to his modest upbringing. His father, a bomber pilot in World War II, was killed in an accident shortly after the war when Dewhurst was barely out of diapers. Born in Houston on August 18, 1945, he went on to Lamar High in Houston and then to the University of Arizona. He did a stint in the Air Force, then in 1971, began working for the Ceritral Intelligence Agency in Bolivia, where he was told, he says, to “monitor certain terrorist and other foreign targets.” Dewhurst appears to revel in his image as a cloak-and-dagger operative for the CIA at a time when the Bolivian government was in crisis. An official biography of Dewhurst that accompanied a 1996 federal commission report on the CIA identified the Texas energy baron as a former “clandestine service officer” with the agency. In 1971, during Dewhurst’s tenure in the country, Bolivian President Juan Jose Torres was overthrown in a bloody coup by Hugo Banzer. Banzer was reportedly backed in the coup by operatives from the U.S. Air Force who, in concert with the CIA, provided Banzer’s rebels with communications equipment. Dewhurst has repeatedly refused to say whether he had any role in those activities. Shortly after he quit the CIA, Dewhurst came back to Texas, just in time to catch the wave created by the surging oil and gas business of the early 1980s. He madeand quickly losta fortune during the bust that inevitably follows every oil boom. But with his new company, Falcon Seaboard, Dewhurst began investing in oil and gas properties and land. More importantly, he was able to borrow enough money to build several power plants. By the early ’90s, he was one of the most eligible bachelors in Houston. In 1995, he married a model,Tammy Jo Hopkins, who was 18 years his junior. “She was a knockout, a trophy woman,” says one source who knows Dewhurst well. A former Miss Teen USA, Tammy Dewhurst was soon named one of Houston’s best dressed women and she and her new husband were spending money like it had no end. One source says the couple’s credit card bills often reached $50,000 per month. They bought a 13,000-square-foot mansion on Lazy Lane, the most exclusive street in the most expensive neighborhoodRiver Oaksin all of Houston. They became regulars at all the high-profile society events, including soirees for the ballet, the opera, and other charities.There was a condo in Santa Fe, another house in the ritzy Pemberton. Heights neighborhood in Austin as well as the ranch near Fredericksburg. Dewhurst made other acquisitions. Falcon Seaboard got into the ranch business in a big way. In addition to the Fredericksburg ranch, the company owns a 42,723-acre ranch near Sonora, a 3,000-acre ranch in Colorado and another ranch in Nebraska.All of the sites are focused on breeding and producing top quality quarter horses and cattle. The horses allow Dewhurst to feed his avocation, team roping. And while David and Tammy Dewhurst were glamorous, rich and filled to overflowing with vacation options, the happiness that came with the acquisitions didn’t last. In early July of 1999, Tammy Dewhurst was driving in Gillespie County when her 1995 Mercedes crossed the center stripe and was broadsided by a car traveling in the opposite direction. Dewhurst was flown to University Hospital in San Antonio, treated and released. \(The occupants of the Dewhurst appears to revel in his image as a cloak-anddagger operative for the CIA at a time when the Bolivian government was in crisis. An official biography of Dewhurst that accompanied a 1996 federal commission report on the CIA identified the Texas energy baron as a former “clandestine service officer” with the agency. other car, an elderly married couple, were not seriously refused to take a breathalizer test. A few months later, she pled no contest to a charge of driving while intoxicated, was fined $1,200, and ordered to serve one year of probation and do community service. In a statement issued after the arrest, David Dewhurst said the incident was a “wakeup call” and that his wife would “give up drinking and enroll herself in a clinic full time.” Less than a year after the crash, Tammy filed for divorce in Houston and the split was finalized a short time later. \(Since their divorce, Tammy Dewhurst has again begun making the rounds of Houston’s social scene. She recently bought a condo at the Huntingdon, the ritzy high-rise in River Oaks that is the home of infamous Enron miscreant Ken Lay and While his personal life is less than ideal, Dewhurst’s business life has been astoundingly good. His fortune was made on July 8, 1996, when CalEnergy Company bought three gas-fired power plants from Falcon Seaboard for $226 million.With his fortune secure, Dewhurst began donating large sums of money to GOP causes. Between 1994 and 1997, Dewhurst gave George W. Bush $105,000. Since 1990, he’s given more than continued on page 26 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 10/11/02
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.