President-elect Jimmy Carter today outlined plans to put his farm and business holdings in trusteeship and to stiffen the provisions against potential conflicts of interest for other senior government officials.
Taking what press secretary Jody Powell called "a first step in fulfilling one of his major campaign commitments to the American people," Carter ordered measures that will curb retiring officials' contacts with their former agency colleagues and require thousands of senior Civil Service and political appointees to file annual public statements disclosing details of their net worth and income sources.
Carter stopped short of divesting himself of the farm and warehouse properties here that comprise most of his $771,000 net worths and provide the bulk of his income.
He will retain ownership of his 3,400 acres of land, under a trusteeship, and allow the trustee to decide whether to sell or lease the peanut-processing business he owns with his mother and brother.
Neither Carter nor would confirm whether Charles Kirbo, his closest personal friend and governmental adviser, would be the trustee. Billy Carter, the President-elect's brother and business partner, said he knew but could not reveal the name of the trustee. Billy Carter grinned broadly when asked if Kirbo, an Atlanta lawyer, would suit him in that role. When told of that, Powell said he "wouldn't discourage" speculation about Kirbo, but said Carter is not ready to make it "official."
Powell conceded that the arrangement outlined today would pemit Carter to recieve income from his private holdings while he is President and to reclaim most and perhaps all of them after he leaves the White House. In a financial disclosure last fall, Carter said the farm and warehouse provided virtually all of his gross $136,000 income in 1975.
"There is absolutely no question he can and will recieve income from the farm and warehouse operations," Powell told a briefing. "But we have tried to remove the possiblity that decisions he might make in the White House would affect the amount of that income."
Under the plan outlined today, the acreage owned by Carter Farms Inc., of which Jimmy Carter is a 91 per cent owner, will be rented, with the annual rental not to exceed that established in 1977, no matter how long Carter remains President.
Carter's Warehouse, of which the President-elect owns a 62 per cent share, with either be sold outright or be leased for a fixed amount for the next four years.
In both cases, Powell maintained, Carter will not be affected financially by the actual profits and losses of the farm and business.
The pressure secretary said that Carter is likely to suffer "some significant financial loss" from this arrangement. He also said a "blind trust" was impossible in a small-town family business, but said that Carter would be shielded as far as possible from knowledge of how the Carter operations are doing.
Visiting the warehouse this morning, Carter said, "It was a hard decision for me to make. Almost everything you see down here . . . I built with my own hands . . . But I wanted to bend over backwards not to have any conflist."
Billy Carter told reporters he would be given "first option" on leasing or buying the warehouse, indicating his preference was for a lease-back arrangement. he saiid he expects to continue to run the business, as he has in recent years, under whatever arrangement the trustee makes. "I don't think it will mean a financial sacrifice for me," he said.
As President, Carter will be influential in decisions on farm price supports and acreage allotments that could have major impact on the value of the farm land and peanut-processing business.
Powell said that "I don't believe he (Carter) ever considered selling his land," most of which has been in family for six generations.
Powell said no profits will be retained in the trusteeship for Carter's benefit after he leaves the presidency and that any earnings due him beyond the fixed rental and lease fees in the next four years would be used for charitable contributions.
A charitable foundation will be established here to fund a Carter presidential library. It will recieve royalties from Carters' autobiography "Why Not The Best?" and ownership of a forthcoming book of his major speeches.
One hundred shares of stock in Rich's Inc., an Atlanta department store, 956 shares of Advance Investors, together valued at $14,780, will be sold. But 3,240 shares of American Can Co. stock, owned by Carter Farms Inc. and worth slightly more than $120,000 will go into the trust.
Carter will retain ownership of his home here, valued at $54,000 in his financial statement.
The guidelines on conflict-of-interest problems for policy-making officials in the Carter administration were described as being designated to "avoid any conflict which could in any way influence any governmental officer except in the even interest of all the people."
In what Powell called "an attempt to restore the confidence of the American people in their own government," Carter ordered several steps beyond the existing statutory penalties for conflict-of-interest violations.
All policy-making officials will be required to file at the time of their appointment and annually thereafter until two years after the completion of their government service public statements of their net worth and sources of income for themselves and members of their immediate families.
John Moore, the lawyer who rafted the conflict-on-interest provisions, said the statements would be required of all presidential appointees, an estimated 2,000 Schedule C political job holders, as well as policy-making civil servants down to the level of GS-14 or 16. The Civil Service Commission said that group could include as many as 77,000 people.
President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a somewhat similiar but less sweeping disclosure program in 1965, but Moore said the enforcement procedures would be made "much stronger" by Carter.
Cabinet-level officals will be required to divest themselves not only of holdings that involve potential conflicts with the particular duties of their job but any properties that could be "broadly affected by government monetary and budgetary policy."
However, exemptions will be made for real estate, savings certificates, governmental securities and diversified small holdings.
Stricter standards are spelled out for the severance pay, pensions and stock-options existing law allows past private employers to give to officals entering the government.
The existing one-year ban on a retired government official dealing with a "particular matter" he or she handled in the agency will be extended to a two-year ban on such activities. A "particular matter"f is defined as one in which the official participated "personally or substantially" while in government.
In addition, Carter will impose a new one-year ban on any contact, "formal or informal," with any official of the department or agency in which the retired appointee served.
These new requirements are spelled out in a letter to the President-elect already signed by Carter's Cabinet appointee. The same letter commits them to serve "the entire team" for which they are appointed or until relieves by the President.
Moore said he believes the provisions are enforeceable as contract law. But he said they would serve as models for an executive order, affecting all-making officials of the federal government, which Carter will issue when he becomes President.
Further, Powell said, Carter will seek legislation spelling out these and other measures designated to reduce conflict of interest and curb the "revolving-door" problem of officials leaving government and going to work for the same industries they dealt with in their Washington jobs.
Sweeping as they are, the new provisions do not reach all problems affecting high-level government jobs. There is no limitation on memoir-writing. Nor is there any ban on taking a job in private industry after leaving government service. The only restriction is on dealing with certain government issues or agencies for a maximum of two years.
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Powell said the new restirctions would not affect anyone like Kirbo, a successful private lawyer who plans to take no government salary ortitle in his part-time duties as a principal Carter adviser.