UT Knoxville, ’70
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus‘ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
For more than four decades, Arthur “A.B.” Culvahouse Jr. quietly has played an important role at the intersection of law, government and politics.
Culvahouse grew up in Ten Mile, Tennessee, on his family’s farm, where his daily chores included feeding hogs and cattle. He graduated from UT Knoxville in 1970 with a degree in business administration and went on to earn his law degree from New York University.
Right out of law school, Culvahouse became chief legislative assistant for U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. when Baker was vice chair of the Senate Watergate Committee. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed Culvahouse White House counsel to represent the president and his administration in the Iran-Contra investigations. Culvahouse also advised Reagan on the legal aspects of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Anthony Kennedy. In 1989, Reagan awarded Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens Medal for “exemplary deeds of service.”
Culvahouse has served on multiple government boards and commissions focusing on national security and U.S. intelligence operations, including an advisory committee that recommended improvements in the nuclear command and control system. For Culvahouse’s contributions, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney awarded him the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
Culvahouse has also helped vet numerous Republican vice presidential nominees over the years.
When not in government, Culvahouse has practiced law at the international firm of O’Melveny and Myers. He was the firm’s chairman from 2000 to 2012.
Tom Ingram, a longtime political consultant in Tennessee, once told the Tennessean newspaper that Culvahouse is “a common-sense, get-it-done lawyer (who) knows Washington and government well and is as honest as the day is long.”
In 2012, UT Knoxville named Culvahouse an Accomplished Alumnus.