Sen. Herman E. Talmadge (D-Ga.), chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, "will make up for any discrepancies" that appear in a completed audit of his official expenses, a spokesman said yesterday.
"He said that he would make up for any discrepancies that show up when he called for the audit last month . . . That's what he's going to do," said Gordon Roberts, Talmadge's press secretary.
Roberts' comments were in reponse to a Washington Star report yesterday that the senator "collected about $35,000 in overpayments from the Senate for official expenses he improperly claimed during a seven-year period," 1971 through 1977 . . . Based on "informed sources," the article also said that about $24,000 of the alleged overpayments were for official expenses Talmadge never incurred, and that the remaining $11,000 was spent on items "that the Senate does not consider legitimate expenses."
Roberts said yesterday that the senator's willingness to make good on any rembursements does not mean that Talmadge agrees with charges he "improperly" received the money.
"He wanted the audit done to determine whether or not anything had been overdrawn, or to find out what items might have been incorrectly stated. He will make up for any discrepancies - whether that (restitution) will be for $35,000 or not, we don't know yet," Roberts said.
He said that neither he nor Talmadge has seen the audit, which was prepared by the senator's own accountants, New York-based Peat, Marwick and Mitchell. The report was turned over Friday to the Senate Ethics Committee, which has been investigating Talmadge for possible violations of campaign finance laws.
The Senate inquiry is one of several investigations, underway or planned, into Talmadge's financial dealings.
The two Atlanta newspapers, The Journal and The Constitution, last week alleged that in 1975 Talmadge used his influence to get the Postal Service as a tenant on property in which he had a financial interest. Also, according to United Press International, the Internal Revenue Service plans to look into Talmadge's tax returns because of charges brought by his former wife, Betty, during the couple's divorce proceedings.
In papers filed with the Georgia Supreme Court, Betty Talmadge has alleged that the senator did not pay taxes on all his gifts to her. The Talmadges were divorced last year after 35 years of marriage.
Talmadge has maintained that he has been operating in good faith and has done nothing wrong. In a letter published yesterday in the Journal-Constitution, he said that he was being "villified by an irresponsible press," and that he may take his case "to the people." CAPTION: Picture, SEN. HERMAN TALMADGE, . . . $35,000 in alleged overpayments