Catching Up with Senator Dennis DeConcini

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For 18 years, Dennis DeConcini represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate. In the first of our four-part series, Catching Up With…, we find out what the former senator has been up to since he retired from public office.

Ted Simons
>>> Tonight we start a four-part series to bring you up-to-date on note worthy Arizonans who have left the political limelight. We start by catching one former United States senator Dennis Deconcini. While in Tucson in 1937 Deconcini graduated from the University of Arizona Law School in 1963. He went on to work for the governor, served as Pima County Attorney, and in 1976 he was elected to the U.S. senate. Deconcini was one of the Keating Five, a dark spot on his otherwise bright senatorial career. He mentions his amendment to the Panama Canal treaty as one of his best moments in the Senate. Producer Mike Sauceda tells us what Deconcini has been up to since leaving the senate in 1995.

Mike Sauceda
>> Former Arizona Democratic Senator Dennis Deconcini takes a playful punch from Arizona School Superintendent Tom Horne. Both men serve on the Board of Regents which controls Arizona's universities. During his time in the senate, Deconcini took an occasional hard punch but says he enjoyed his time as the senator.

Dennis Deconcini
>> It's the best job I've ever had. I served for grateful to the people of Arizona elected me three times. It's the best job there is. I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me but I never worked harder in all my life.

Mike Sauceda
>> Deconcini says he missed the Senate for awhile.

Dennis Deconcini
>> I don't miss it now. I did at first. Because I was so into it that it took me awhile to sit back and say, you know, it's okay that I don't work 12, 14 or 16 hours a day like I used to do. It's okay to go on vacation. It's okay to read a book. So I serve on a lot of boards. I was just the past president of the board of directors of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That's the one that John Walsh, America's Most Wanted Started. I helped when I was in the senate put earmarks in to find these missing children. And then I went on that board. And I was on the board of an orphanage in Nairobi started by a Jesuit priest. And I just went off that board last year. And then of course I'm on the board of regents thanks to Governor Napolitano's and the Republican Senate approving me to serve there. And so, you know, I have enough to do. Plus some corporate boards I sit on. And I still have a business in Washington, D.C.

Mike Sauceda
>> Deconcini's Washington, D.C. lobbying firm keeps him on the Beltway several times a year. He still has a law firm in Tucson although he doesn't do much legal work. He says most of his time is spent in Tucson although he has a summer home in La Jolla, California to escape the heat. Deconcini also served on the board of Freddie Mac in the mid 90s. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Corrections Board of America, a private prison firm. Deconcini also recently authored a book, "Senator Dennis Deconcini from the center of the aisle."

Dennis Deconcini
>> I wrote a book with a guy named Jack August. It's -- I kiddingly say I'm going to market it as a sleep inducement book. If you read this book it will put you to sleep if you have trouble sleeping. But it was an interesting experience. It's quite an experience when you haven't ever written a book. The most I've ever written is a couple of articles or papers in the university or law school.

Dennis Deconcini
>> The wording there if you look on page 406 if anybody's interested, --

Mike Sauceda
>> Takes a lot of his time as the board of regents. He was appointed to the board in 2006.

Dennis Deconcini
>> We have six meetings, seven next year, then you have a couple of committee meetings every quarter. So it takes a lot of time, a lot of reading. I really enjoy it, because when I was in the senate I used to work with these universities for appropriations primarily. And getting them money. And I was involved in them. And I even got so I knew kind of the politics of the academic world, which always intrigued me. And I enjoyed working with our universities. We've got three really fantastic universities.

Mike Sauceda
>> Being out of the senate allowed Deconcini to travel.

Dennis Deconcini
>> I have relatives still in northern Italy. And I like Italy. My wife is Irish. And so she likes Italy, too. I like Ireland, too. But we do a lot of that kind of travel. I'm on the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children's board which is in Brussels. So we have a couple of meetings in Europe. We may have one in Egypt this year because they have joined us in trying to track down the abuse and trafficking of children and women and their children through intercountries. And it's a big, big problem. So we do quite a bit of that. And my life is really good. I want to cross myself and thank the Lord.

Mike Sauceda
>> It also allowed him to spend more time with his family in very meaningful ways.

Dennis Deconcini
>> Last thanksgiving I took five of them two of my two daughters and their spouses to Africa to see this aids orphanage and the children there. And we spent three days with these terrible conditions that these people live in. And the aids assistance that is given there. You see your granddaughter and your grandson sitting in a little place that is maybe one eighth the size of this which is the mother sitting there. And she has two small children there and a brand-new baby. And they all are H.I.V. positive. And her husband has AIDS, who is now gone. Because many of them have multiple wives. And to hold that child and see that this orphanage called Neobani which means "children of God" in Swahili is giving them food supplement and medicines. And they live in a shack with no running water and a little bit of electricity. And the largest slum in the world, called Kabera in Nairobi, you watch your grandchildren and you know it's making an impression.

Mike Sauceda
>> As for the future?

Dennis Deconcini
>> I like to help my grandchildren get college. I'm setting aside savings for them with this economic crisis in the country turns around becau

Dennis Deconcini:Former Arizona senator

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