Sen. Orrin Hatch eyes legacy with archive, think tank plans

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Signed boxing gloves from Muhammad Ali, documents from the Bill Clinton impeachment, and 3,000 boxes of other papers and memorabilia from a 42-year career in Washington will be part of a library and think tank being named for retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch on Wednesday.

The Hatch Center is partnering with a yet-unnamed Utah university with the goal of “leading a movement” toward bipartisanship and civility in politics.

After helping to pass a sweeping overhaul of the tax code and persuading President Donald Trump to downsize two national monuments, the Republican Hatch announced in January that he will be leaving office at the end of the year.

Hatch, 83, is a staunch conservative who worked with the late liberal lion Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy to pass the American Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and also authored landmark bipartisan legislation increasing access to generic-drugs.

Hatch has also clashed with opponents in recent years. During a tax-cut debate with liberal firebrand Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio last year, Hatch said he was tired of the Democrat’s “bull crap.” Earlier this year, Hatch used an expletive during a speech to describe supporters of former President Barack Obama’s health care law, though he later apologized.

Tax filings show Hatch’s foundation had raised nearly $6 million by 2016, the most recent year documents are available. Donations have come from places like Visa, the NFL, the tobacco manufacturer Altria and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, according to federal disclosure forms.

Because Hatch is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, the fundraising has raised questions about possible conflict of interest. The foundation has said donations have been handled properly and it had retained an ethics-expert attorney.

The Hatch Center will host speakers and public debates, as well as use his contacts to study the legislative process. It will also include a library where researchers and others will have access to his extensive papers, including drafts of legislation and letters from people like Nancy Reagan.

Similar centers include the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston and the McCain Institute at Arizona State University.

Hatch will announce the future home of his center and its university partner Wednesday alongside foundation board president and Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson and Utah real-estate developer Kem Gardner, whose name is on a policy institute at the University of Utah.

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