Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez

Tony "Clean Record" Sanchez

Vital Stats

Gubernatorial Campaign Contributions:

-Bush: $101,000

Years as Regent:

February 1997-February 2003

Residency: Laredo, Texas

"There would be no greater joy than to see a beautiful park that our children and adults can go to and learn about the oil and gas industry."

-Tony Sanchez after he received a controversial permit in 1993 to drill gas wells in Falcon State Park, next to a big reservoir on the Rio Grande.

How much does an appointment to the position of UT Regent cost? Apparently it's somewhere around $101,000. That's the amount Tony Sanchez, a businessman with no experience in higher education, donated to George W. Bush's gubernatorial campaign between 1995 and 1998. In fact, this Texas Democrat has given a total of $320,150 to Bush's campaigns, making him Bush's second highest career patron, and also the highest individual contributor in his 1998 gubernatorial race. Coincidentally, in 1999 he was appointed to the board of UTIMCO by then governor George W. Bush.

So where did his millions come from? Sanchez began his business career in oil and gas exploration. Tony and his father, the late A. R. Sanchez Sr., started an oil and banking empire called Sanchez-O'Brien Oil & Gas (now known as Sanchez Oil & Gas Corporation) with partner Brian E. O'Brien in 1973 when they drilled a well in Webb County, Texas. That first well started the development of the largest pool of natural gas found in the US in the last 30 years.

Sanchez, however, was not satisfied with this meager claim to wealth, and therefore began attaining the rights to drill both in environmentally sensitive areas and areas close to human development within Texas. In 1993, he received a controversial permit from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to drill next to a sizeable reservoir on the Rio Grande River. He had to pay $400,000 and donate 90 acres of land in order to gain the permit. "It was selling out for peanuts," said former Parks employee Ron Holliday.1 It is interesting that Sanchez received such a provocative permit since he had worked as a Parks and Wildlife commissioner in the mid-80's.

Then in 2000, he obtained a permit for gas exploration in Burnet Bay in Baytown, TX. Baytown city officials offered to assist the company scouting for land north of the city, but this alternative was not explored. City of Baytown officials and residents including Rep. Kay Bentsen protested against the permit in the form of letters, phone calls, and testimonies. More than 200 Baytown residents attended a meeting to register against the proposed drilling. Despite their efforts, however, the permit, allowing for gas exploration only 1300 feet from the $3.6 million Baytown Nature Center, was granted.

Sanchez has now expanded his business interests to include venture capital investments and partnerships in a variety of high-technology businesses, industrial parks, ranches, and commercial real estate. Mr. Sanchez and his family are also the largest stockholders in International Bancshares Corporation, a bank holding company. If either the proposed tuition deregulation or increase of certain student fees is put into effect, because of his position at the International Bancshares Corporation, Sanchez would profit from the increase in student loans.

As a regent, Sanchez is best known for his poor attendance at meetings and his role in causing the world-famous Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron to resign from the Blanton Art Museum project. The regents, headed by Tony Sanchez and Rita Clements, rejected all three schemes and 14 models for the Blanton museum design because they were "at odds with the campus master plan." When an agreement could not be reached, Herzog and de Meuron resigned. Sanchez responded that he was happy with the firm's resignation, and stated, "I am glad that they have made this decision so that we can get on with the process and select an American architecture firm that can work with us and understand the cultural significance of the project."

Also, despite his rhetoric about increasing the diversity at UT, he admonished students who gathered in a peaceful demonstration to protest the end of affirmative action saying, "I think it's extremely wrong to carry out your message in this way -- you can't expect people to listen to you."

Sanchez's record as a regent is pitiful. Often, he totally disregards the interests of the students, and on the rare occasions when he does listen to student concerns, his actions are obviously politically motivated. Furthermore, the ability of regents to buy their appointments undermines democracy at the University by exempting regents from any kind of accountability for their actions. If students and members of the UT community want to have a voice in the way that UT policy is created, they will have to become more active in demanding representation from the regents.

Bibliography

Boards and Executive Positions

A.R. Sanchez, Jr. Oil and Gas:
Owner

Conoco, Inc.:
Director

International Bancshares Corporation:
Director

Nixon Ranch Partnership:
General Partner

Nopal Gathering Corporation:
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Nopal Pipeline Corporation:
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

San Antonio Holdings of Delaware:
Chairman and President

Sanchez Drilling Corporation:
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Sanchez Oil and Gas Corp:
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

Sanchez Management Corp:
Chairman and President

Santa Maria Ranch Co, Inc.:
Chairman

Southern Aircraft and Transportation:
Chairman

Southern Development Properties:
Chairman

Sanchez Family Foundation:
Director

Tony Sanchez for Governor, Inc.:
Director

Zixit Corporation:
Director