A Federal Election Commission audit of Jimmy Carter's 1976 primary campaign finances has turned up dozens of inadequately disclosed expenditures but no significant violations of federal elections laws.
The Jimmy Carter Committee was required to repay a total of about $7,800 for two minor infractions found by the auditors. One involved the improper use of personal bank accounts by several campaign workers as depositories for campaign funds.
The other violation concerned 21 inadequately documented campaign expenditures.
The auditors found greater problems in the committee's reporting of the money it dispensed around the country for such things as "Get Out The Vote" efforts on primary election days.
Thirty-four payments for this purpose-more commonly known as "walk-around money"-were said to have been "insufficiently" disclosed.
The commission determined, however, that these and other potential violations occurred before the commission had issued guidelines in 1976 for the reporting of these expenditures.
The audit did not deal with the notion - currently being investigated by a special prosecutor - that bank loans intended for the Carter family peanut business may have found their way into the campaign.
In addition, the audit covered only the primary campaign. A similar audit of general election expenses is currently under way.
The release yesterday of the primary audit came nearly three years after the campaign closed with Carter's nomination. The delay has subjected the commission to public criticism, in part because it finished the audit of Gerald Ford's campaign more than a year ago.
The commission is required to conduct audits of the presidential campaigns to determine whether the millions of dollars in federal matching funds dispensed are properly spent.
The auditors do not examine every expenditure but rather use a sampling technique whereby they request documentation from the committee when it is not provided sufficiently on public spending reports. There was no indication in the back-up documents that FEC auditors attempts to verify the authenticity of the documentation.
For example, one supporting document from a recipient of election day money simply states that $25 was paid to "30 kids for distribution of palm card and literature."
Another states that money, used to pay canvassers at $20 per hour, was needed because the recipient "lives in a poverty area." The funds were "certainly put to good use," the documentation from this recipient adds.
The auditors found numerous examples of inadequate documentation in the dispensing of such amounts, for "get out the vote" drives, personal expense reimbursements and fund-raising expenses.
"The disclosure of the expenditure . . . was incomplete in that there were less than accurate descriptions of the actual purpose and in many cases no identification of the persons providing services to the campaign," the FCC reported.
No action was taken, however, because the guildlines for reporting the majority of these expenses took effect after they were made.