David L. Boren, Governor, U.S. Senator

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David Lyle Boren

Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rep. Lyle Hagler Boren, (D-OK) and Christine Boren
Ex-husband of Janna Lou Boren
Father of Dan Boren

Managed by: Private User
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About David L. Boren, Governor, U.S. Senator


David Lyle Boren (born April 21, 1941) is an academic leader and American politician from the state of Oklahoma. A Democrat, he served as the 21st Governor of Oklahoma from 1975 to 1979 and in the United States Senate from 1979 to 1994. He is currently president of the University of Oklahoma. He was the longest serving Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Currently, he serves as Co-Chair of the nonpartisan U.S. President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

The Boren family has a strong interest in public policy and three generations of public service. His father, Lyle Boren, served in the U.S. House of Representatives (OK-04) from 1937 to 1947. His son, Dan Boren, has served in the U.S. House of Representatives (OK-02) since 2005.


Boren was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Christine (née McKown) and Lyle Hagler Boren. He graduated in 1963 from Yale University, where he majored in American history, graduated in the top one percent of his class and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was a member of the Yale Conservative Party, elected president of the Yale Political Union and is a member of Skull and Bones. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned a master's degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from University of Oxford (1965), serving later as a member of the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee. In 1968, he received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

During the Vietnam War, Boren served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 1968 to 1974, attaining the rank of Captain. One obscure bit of trivia is that while a state representative in 1967, he served on a legislative committee to investigate the University of Oklahoma after the school allowed black militant Paul Boutelle, a socialist and anti-Vietnam War activist, to give a speech there. While a member of the State House of Representatives Boren was a professor at Oklahoma Baptist University.

Boren has been a friend and political associate of several Speakers of the House, including Carl Albert. Albert's Chief of Staff, Charles Ward later served as Boren's Chief of Staff when he became U.S. Senator.

Boren's son, Dan Boren, represents Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. Boren's daughter, Carrie, is a former actress and current director for evangelism in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. Boren was a first cousin to the late folk singer Hoyt Axton. His aunt Mae Axton wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" which became popular after the tune was sung by Elvis Presley.

He has been married twice, to the late Janna Little and currently to Molly Shi.

In the Senate

In the U.S. Senate, Boren was known as a centrist or conservative Democrat, and was a protege of Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and was often aligned with southern Democrats such as Sam Nunn of Georgia and Howell Heflin of Alabama. He was a strong advocate of tax cuts across the board as the cornerstone of economic policy. He opposed the Windfall profit tax on the domestic oil industry, which was repealed in 1988. At one point, the tax was generating no revenue, yet still required oil companies to comply with reporting requireements and the IRS to spend $15 million to collect the tax. Of the tax, Boren said: "As long as the tax is not being collected, the accounting requirements are needless. They result in heavy burdens for the private sector and unnecessary cost to the taxpayer."

Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), who served with Sen. Boren, publicly stated that Boren should be elected President. Boren's Chief of Staff was a respected Capitol Hill insider, Charles Ward, a former longtime Administrative Assistant to Speaker Albert.

Boren served on the Senate Committee on Finance and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. he also served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the longest-serving chairman of that committee ever. Boren sponsored the National Security Education Act of 1991, which established the National Security Education Program.

Boren was one of only two Democratic senators to vote in favor of the controversial nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, in 1987. Boren also decided in 1990 to vote against the Persian Gulf War, surprising most political observers.

Boren was one of the President Bill Clinton's top choices to replace Les Aspin as a U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1994. However, Clinton selected William J. Perry instead.

In a controversial public mea culpa in a New York Times Op/Ed piece, Boren expressed regret over his vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Partly as a result of that statement, The Daily Oklahoman, the largest newspaper in Oklahoma, which had encouraged and endorsed Boren's entire career, began calling for his retirement from the U.S. Senate.

In 1994, he resigned his Senate seat to accept the presidency of the University of Oklahoma.

After the Senate

Boren currently serves as President of the University of Oklahoma, and sits on the Board of Directors of Texas Instruments and AMR Corporation (the parent company of American Airlines). His current salary as the University of Oklahoma President is $383,852.88 annually. One semester every school year, President Boren teaches a freshman level Political Science class to 200 students.

In 1996, Reform Party Presidential candidate Ross Perot unsuccessfully sought Boren to be his vice-presidential running mate. In 2001, Boren, along with fellow Democrat former Governor George Nigh was listed as being in support of the Right to Work law in Oklahoma. The measure, proposed and sponsored by then Gov. Frank Keating, was passed by the voters.

Boren is regarded as a mentor to former CIA Director George Tenet from his days as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Boren and Tenet were having breakfast together when Tenet was called away to respond to the terror attacks. Boren said that in the weeks before the Iraq War began in March 2003, he warned Tenet that since he was not a member of President George W. Bush’s closest circle of advisers, the White House would make him the scapegoat if things went badly in Iraq. "I told him they had your name circled if anything goes wrong," Boren recalls telling Tenet.

In June 2007, conservative political columnist Robert Novak claimed that Boren had met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to discuss a possible third-party presidential campaign. Bloomberg had just recently left the Republican Party, and speculation arose that he discussed the possibility of Boren joining him as a running mate. However, on April 18, 2008, Boren endorsed the leading Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

In 2008, he released a book titled A Letter to America.

Boren and former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel currently serve as the co-chairmen of the nonpartisan U.S.President's Intelligence Advisory Board under Barack Obama.

Boren also sits on the Honorary Board of the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues.

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David L. Boren, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

April 21, 1941
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
August 2, 1973
Shawnee, Pottawatomie, OK, United States