Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner David Gartner refused yesterday to resign, despite President Carter's televised call for him to step down.
In his regular television press conference, Carter said Gartner "ought to resign" from the $50,000 a year job because of what the president called "an allegation of impropriety."
Gartner has acknowledged that before he was appointed by Carter to the CFTC his children were given stock worth $72,000 by Dwayne Andreas, chairman of Archer Daniels Midland Corp., a big grain dealer.
After Carter's press conference, Gartner through an aide, said he "intends to remain a commissioner." He said he will present a detailed response to questions about the stock gift tomorrow, when he has been called back before the Senate Agriculture Committee.
It was learned yesterday that the Senate Ethics Committee has been asked to look into some aspects of the stock gifts. Chairman Herman Talmadge, (D-Ga.) of the Agriculture Committee and Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) the ranking Republican, have asked the Ethics Committee to review the dates on which Gartner received the stock.
Gartner was given the stock in 1975, 1976 and 1977 when he was the top aide to Sen. Hubert Humphrey. Andreas was a long-time Humphrey backer.
The Ethics Committee has been asked to investigate reports that part of the stock was not registered in Gartner's name until after April 2, 1977, when tough new ethics rules for congressmen and their staffs went into effect. Gartner's aide said the gift was made before the effective date of new rules which would have prohibited the gift.
In his press conference Carter said Gartner "has not violated the law" but still ought to resign.
Less than two weeks ago Carter defended his appointment of Gartner, saying White House officials did not know about the stock gifts when the appointment was made, but did not consider it a conflict of interest.
But yesterday Carter said the staff has reexamined the facts and decided Gartner should go.
"He has not committed a crime, he has not violated the law, but the image of impropriety resulting from the acceptance by his children of a substantial gift leads me to think it would be better if he did resign," Carter said.
Presidential aides last Friday asked Gartner to resign, but Gartner refused, Carter said.
The president has the power to appoint CFTC commissioners with the approval of the Senate, but lacks the direct authority to remove them.
Carter said there is nothing more he can do to get rid of Gartner "except to ask him to reconsider and resign."
Since his last press conference, Carter said, he has "looked into it much more throughly," adding, "I believe that in light of the fact there is an allegation of impropriety on his part that he should resign."
"I think he should resign. A decision now is up to him." Carter said.
Gartner volunteered information about the stock gifts to the White House and the Senate Agriculture Committee and was questioned briefly about it during a one-day confirmation hearing that lead to him being approved by the Senate without a recorded vote.
Critics complain that the appointment was rushed through because of Gartner's close ties to Humphrey, who before he died sought a top federal job for his trusted aide.
Gartner said he would disqualify himself from any CFTC decisions affecting Archer-Daniels-Midland, a $2 billion a year grain business.
Farm state congressmen, who have been calling on Carter to get Gartner's resignation for two weeks, said he could not be an effective commissioner because of his links to ADM.
One of the biggest grain buyers and processors in the nation, ADM deals in corn, wheat and soybeans, all commodities regulated by CFTC.
Questions about Gartner's friendship with Andreas have also been raised because Andreas made a secret $25,000 contribution to Richard Nixon in 1972 that wound up in the hands of the Watergate burglars.