Those who have won the ovarian lottery by being born in an advanced society to loving parents have a special obligation to help restore the American Dream.
Kaiser was born on July 29, 1942 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He attended Central High School in Tulsa. He earned a B.A. from Harvard College in 1964 and an MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1966. He briefly considered joining the U.S. Foreign Service, but instead returned to Tulsa in 1966 to work for his Father. Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. was created in the 1940s by Kaiser's uncle and parents, Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany who settled in Oklahoma.
George Kaiser took control of Kaiser-Francis Oil Company in 1969, after his Father had a heart attack. Kaiser-Francis was a little-known, privately owned oil prospecting and drilling company at the time. Under George's management, it became the 23rd largest nonpublic Energy exploration company in the U.S. by 2010. In that year the company earned about $217 million, based on estimates by Bloomberg News.
In 1990, Kaiser bought Bank of Oklahoma out of Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation receivership. Despite BOK's depressed state, it was rich enough to land Kaiser on the Forbes 400 at one stroke. He has since expanded BOK from a 20-branch company located solely in Oklahoma into a $23.9 billion bank with operations in nine states. It is the 23rd largest bank holding company in the U. S. He owns 61.5 percent of BOK. As of 2007, Kaiser's ownership interests in BOK were worth $2.3 billion. In 2008, with an estimated current net worth of around $12 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the 20-richest person in America and the richest person in Oklahoma. In March 2009, in the face of the general world economic downturn, Forbes reported that Kaiser's net worth had dropped to $9 billion, ranking him in a tie for 43rd-richest person in the world. It has since risen to $9.8 billion as the markets recovered.
George's Father, Herman had been a judge in Germany until 1935, when he was removed from his job by the Nazis because he was Jewish. He and his wife escaped to England in 1938, then emigrated to the United States. They settled in Tulsa, where Herman's aunt and uncle already lived. Herman joined the uncle's oil drilling Business. Their son was born in Tulsa. Herman died in Tulsa on October 14, 1992 at the age of 88.
A Wall Street Journal article reported in 2004 that campaign contribution records showed that Kaiser had donated $10,000 to Democratic Party political candidates for every $1,000 that he gave Republican Party candidates.
Kaiser was a fundraiser for the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama, and functioned as a campaign bundler for Obama: an individual who collects contributions to a candidate from others that are then simultaneously given to the candidate. At one 2007 event for Obama, he raised more than $250,000.
Kaiser's family foundation funded the National Energy Policy Institute, a non-profit Energy policy organization located at the University of Tulsa whose President since its inception is former Alaska governor Tony Knowles. and whose Director was former U.S. Representative Brad Carson. In January 2009, Kaiser drew attention after he told a committee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives that the state should eliminate or reduce tax incentives for the oil and gas industry, and instead use the money for health care or education programs or for tax cuts for other taxpayers.
A 2011 article by Bill Allison of the Sunlight Foundation analyzed Kaiser's Business activities and his use of legal tax avoidance strategies, including how during the 1980s bust in the oil industry in Oklahoma and Texas, Kaiser bought up struggling Energy companies whose losses provided him with tax deductions that effectively offset his own income and left him with little or no tax liability.
The foundation was instrumental in the funding of Tulsa's Woody Guthrie Center, which opened in 2013, and then in facilitating (together with the University of Tulsa) the acquisition in 2016 of Bob Dylan's 6,000-piece archive, which will be maintained by archivists at the university's Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum.
In April 2014, Kaiser bought Tom L. Ward's interest in The Professional Basketball Club, the investment group headed by Clay Bennett that owns the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association, as well as its Tulsa 66ers minor league affiliate.