Sen. Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) neglected to report that he used about $27,000 in personal funds for campaign purposes in 1973 and 1974, his office confirmed yesterday.
"We just damn well overlooked" the law requiring a report of the expenditure to the secretary of the Senate, said T. Rogers Wade, administrative assistant to Talmadge and campaign chairman at the time of the spending.
Responding to an article in The Washington Star, Wade said the money was spent on constituent meals, use of the Senate recording studio and travel, among other things. Campaign officials were unsure whether these were legitimate campaign expenses so they paid for them out of a "special account" of personal money maintained by Talmadge, Wade said.
Wade said that later in 1974 the "confusion" about new campaign finance rules faded. Talmadge campaign officials decided that the earlier expenditures - $14,669 in 1973 and $12,243 in 1974 - were legitimate campaign outlays and reimbursed the senator out of campaign funds.
The use of the money should have been publicly reported at that time, Wade conceded. There was "no intent to hide the expenditure. It was a technical matter. There's no allegation of wrongdoing. Any errors are being corrected through amended reports," he said.
The senator is already the object of a preliminary inquiry by the Senate Ethics Committee because of reports that he received gifts of cash, clothing and other goods from friends and political supporters during his years in office. Talmadge told The Star that whenever he returns to his home state, he is showered with "small gifts to cash . . . small, inconsequential amounts."
Wade said that Talmadge Campaign Committee would provide the secretary of the Senate receipts showing how the $27,000 was spent in 1973 and 1974. Those receipts were not available yesterday, he said in response to a request from The Washington Post.