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May 02, 1979 - Image 11

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-02

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, May 2, 1979-Page 11

AP Photo
SENATOR HERMAN Talmadge (D-Ga.) waits with his attorney before facing the financial misconduct by Talmadge and his staff. The hearings, which began
Senate Ethics Committee Monday. The Senate panel is investigating charges of Monday, are expected to last for two more weeks.

Aides testify in Talmadge

WASHINGTON (Reuter) - Staff
aides of Senator Herman Talmadge
said yesterday it was office practice to
bill the Senate to the limit for expense
reimbursements, whether or not the
Senator had actually incurred the ex-
pense. %
But they insisted that Talmadge, who
faces charges of financial misconduct,
neither knew of the procedure nor
monitored his office finances in more
than a cursory manner.
Ro gers Wade, the Senator's ad-
ministrative assistant and Rita Hubler,
his personal secretary, testified as the
Senate Ethics Committee held a second
day of public hearings into the charges
against Talmadge, a Georgia
Democrat and one of the Senate's most
senior and powerful members.
THE TESTIMONY prompted Senator
Robert Morgan (D-N.C.) to say that,
with the truth of the overbilling
established, the question of Talmadge's
personal knowledge became critical.
Morgan is one of his Georgia
colleague's closest friends on the com-
mittee.
If found guilty on the charges -
which include diverting campaign fun-
ds to personal use - Talmadge could be
censured by the Senate or even ex-
pelled.
WADE TESTIFIED he carried out
the policy of filing for the maximum
possible expense reimbursements -
about $40,000 a year - because "I was
told that the money was the Senators' to
do with as they see fit."
He said the money was not diverted to
the Senator's personal use, but used for
otherwise non-reimbursible expenses.
"It was my understanding those things
washed out and all came together," he
said.
Hubler admitted that nonexistent ex-

penses were lumped into an overall
amount purportedly covering expenses
in the Senator's home district.
"THE HOME OFFICE expense
represented the difference between our
expenses and the maximum. That was
the catchall phrase for expenses," she
said.
Hubler insisted she could not recall
specifics of a wide range of financial
transactions in the Talmadge office,
leading committee chairman Adlai
Stevenson to urge her to refresh her
memory before resuming testimony
today.
In one case, she said she simply could

not remember switching $0,000 from a
special office account to the Senator's
personal account in 1975, even when
committee counsel Carl Eardley
showed her a note she had written to
report it.
SHE SUGGESTED that such a switch
would not have been improper. Per-
sonal assets of the Senator's, such
items as payments for speeches and in-
terest on investments, often were kept
in the special office fund temporarily
and then switched over, she said.
But when asked how she could have
distinguished speech payments from
improper expense reimbursements in

hearing
making the transfers, she said: "I don't
expect I could have known that."
EARDLEY REFERRED to the
$80,000 transfer only briefly, quoting
Hubler's note: "Mr. Earls, this has
been transferred to the Senator's per-
sonal account."
He did not detail the circumstances.
But a committee aide told Reuters
the note was attached to a copy of a cer-
tificate of deposit in the Trust Company
of Georgia, and that the "Mr. Earls"
referred to was Lawrence Earls, an ac-
countant with the firm of Peat, Mar-
wi&k, Mitchel and Co. That company
has done accounting work for the
Senator.

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