he Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously yesterday to approve the nomination of a long-time aide to the late Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.) as a commissioner of the Community Futures Trading Commission. The vote followed lengthy questioning of the nominee about a possible conflict of interest regarding gifts of more than $72,000 worth of stock to his children.
David Gartner, President Carter's nominee to replace John Rainbolt II at the CFFC, told the Agriculture Committee that, "on the basis of personal friendship," the chairman of the Archer-Daniel-Midland Co. and the executive's daughter made gifts of 4,008 shares of ADM stock in 1975, 1976, and 1977 to his four children in the form of irrevocable trusts for their education.
Gartner said that each trust fund had lost $3,500 to $4,000 in market value since the gifts were given.
The gifts were made by ADM Chairman Dwayne Andreas, a leading political fund raiser, and his daughter Sandra McMuntrie. McMurtrie was Gartner's secretary while Humphrey was vice president.
Andreas' company is a major futures market participant.
Gartner, 42, a former lowa newspaper reporter, was a top aide to Humphrey from 1961 until his death early this year. He has coptinued as an aide to Sen. Muriel Humphrey. Both Humphreys were Agriculture Committee members, the committee has over-sight authority for the CFTC.
Andreas contributed heavily to Humphrey's compaigns as well as to Richard Niron's 1968 presidential bid against Hunphrey.
Sen Henry Bellmon (R-Okla.) raised the issue of the stock during the confirmation hearing. He told Gartner he would not approve the nomination unless the stock is sold. "The danger conflict of interest really disturbs me, Bellmon said.
The CFTC reuglates the trillion-dol-lar-a-year commodity markets, and its decisions affect the operations of firms such as ADM.
In order to win unanimous support from the committee, Gartner said he called the trustee at the National City Bank of Minneapolis following the hearing to recommend that the stock be solid. "The trustee agree to sell the stock," Gartner said.
Because the trusts were irrevocable and Gartner was not to have any control over them, presumably he could not direct that the stock be sold, attorneys in private practice here said.
"A direction to sell the stock in that manner raises the question if the trust were violated," one attorney with a mahor firm said yesterday. The trusts will retain the funds from the sale.
Both Gartner and the White House attorney who handles conflict-of-interest issues, Michael Cardozo, stressed yesterday the independence of the trustee and the irrevocable nature of the trusts as reasons for believing that no conflict is present.
Cardozo said in a telephone interview that "Gartner was extremely forthcoming with both the White House and, I believe, the committee" about the stock. "I felt it-was a close question," Cardozo said. "But because the trusts were made well in advance of the nomination, since they are irrevocable, and since he's not the trustee, I recommended that he discuss it with committee. There's plenty of precadent for trusts being allowed to continue when an independent trustee exists as a buffer..."
Gartner assured the committee that he would disqualify himself from any matters with a "direct impact" on Andreas or ADM which come before the commission.
In the statement he filed with the committee, Gartner listed total assets worth $388,68.18.