Former Congressman Pete Geren of Fort Worth, president and CEO of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation, has been named to the oversight board of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas as lawmakers seek to reform the troubled agency after months of scandal.
Geren, who is the youger brother of state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was appointed by House Speaker Joe Straus. Geren, chairman of the House Administration Committee and a member of Straus' leadership team, said he was aware that his brother was under consideration but did not have a hand in his appointment.
Senate-passed legislation by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, seeks to restructure and toughen oversight of CPRIT, which has been rocked by months of disclosures over the awarding of millions of dollars in questionable research grants. CPRIT was created by Texas voters in 2007 to carry out a 10-year, $3 billion cancer research program.
In a letter to Geren on Tuesday, Straus told the former Army secretary that his appointment is effective immediately and will last until Jan. 31, 2019.
"Public trust in CPRIT needs to be restored so that the agency can focus on the important mission of fighting cancer," the House leader told Geren. "I have no doubt that you will provide valuable leadership as CPRIT moves forward."
Geren, 61, has headed the Sid Richardson Foundation since July of 2011 after returning to Fort Worth from Washington, where he held high-profile posts in the Pentgon. He was the 20th U.S. Army Secretary from 2007 to 2009 and earlier served as acting Air Force secretary and as special assistant to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
A graduate of the University of Texas law school, Geren was a Fort Worth attorney and businessman before becoming an aide to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen in the early 1980s. He served four terms as a Democratic member of Congress from 1989 until 1997, occupying the 12th District seat formerly held by former House Speaker Jim Wright of Fort Worth.
-- Dave Montgomery