. . . I want to thank the chairman and members of this subcommittee for the opportunity to present this initial statement about my contacts with the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya . . . I see no allegations that anyone committed a crime and I see no indication that the Department of Justice treated me with any kind of special favor. Actually, I may have been regarded as a "hot potato" requiring a stricter form of law enforcement attention than that afforded an ordinary citizen not related to the president of the United States.
In truth, I am just an ordinary citizen from a small southern community. I have been married to my wife, Sybil, for 25 years, and we have six children . . .
I was born, raised and spent most of my life in Plains, Ga. From 1959, when I left the Marine Corps . . . until Jan. 20, 1977, I lived the life of a typical smalltown businessman. I was a part-time farmer, part-time service-station operator and manager and part owner of a family business, Carter's Warehouse . . .
In January 1977, my brother, whom I admire, respect, was and am very proud of, and love very much, became president of the United States.
This election caused drastic changes in my life and the lives of my family. We . . . were not prepared for [these changes].
The family business and farm were placed in a blind trust. . . . Charles Kirbo was named head of the blind trust. . . . It became impossible for me to run the business with a lawyer in Atlanta, especially when he made decisions I was unaware of and questioned every decision I made.
Tourist traffic increased in Plains at an alarming rate and everyone wanted to see a member of Jimmy's family. . . . It became impossible to carry on normal business in the office. . . .
In April of 1977, I decided to move out of Plains and bought a house about 20 miles away, in Buena Vista, Ga. . . . I also hired an agent in Nashville and started to make public appearances across the United States and Canada. I continued to work at Carter's Warehouse until Sept. 1, 1977, when I left and started making appearances full time. My income increased dramatically . . . with money derived from personal appearances, increased business at the service station and introduction of the short-lived Billy Beer.
I do not deny I brought most of my notoriety on myself, nor do I apologize for it. I refused to conform to an image that a lot of people thought a president's brother should adopt. I considered myself to be a private individual who had not been elected to public office, and resented the attention of different government agencies that I began to hear from almost as soon as Jimmy was sworn in. In February of 1977, IRS commenced a review audit of all my tax returns for the prior five years, and this review, which still goes on, now includes 1977 and 1978.
This was the first of some 10 different investigations in which I have been interrogated. In the course of these time-consuming investigations, most of my private and commercial business, and my private life, have been made public.
[In July 1978] a representative of Libya invited me to visit that country as the guest of its government. I . . . traveled to Libya in September 1978 . . . My visit . . . was a private one; I had no discussions with my brother or with any other federal government official prior to going. I visited with local and national officials in Libya and saw various tourist sites. . . .
I do not recall expressing any personal interest in any kind of business arrangements with either the Libyan government or any government-owned company there.
I thought at that point that I had been invited because I was the brother of the president. And just in case any [Libyan] officials had the idea that I would be a vehicle through which Libya could affect United States policy, I stated . . . during this first visit that I had absolutely no influence over the policy or decisions made by the United States or made by my brother. . . .
I avoided making any political comments while in Libya. . . .
Upon my return to Georgia, I sent a letter . . . to the Libyans thanking them for the hospitality extended to me and inviting them to . . . stop over in Georgia [on] an already scheduled [U.S.] trip early the next year. . . . g
Prior to the visit, [Carter associate] Randy Coleman had called the State Department -- [and been told it] had no objection to our hosting [the Libyans] . . . During the Libyans' stay in Georgia, I recall only one personal conversation with a Libyan government representative concerning any business arrangement from which I might benefit. During the visit to my house, one of the Libyan visitors expressed regret at the adverse, even hostile, publicity which my hospitality to the Libyans and earlier visit to their country was producing. He recognized that this had hurt me financially and inquired whether there were any business proposals I might make which could help lessen the harm . . .
After my visit to Libya . . . and . . . the Libyan visit to Georgia in January 1979, a virtual media storm and negative public reaction resulted. Citizens and columnists thought that I should not be sharing hospitality with the people and government of Libya. My business agent told me that . . . my public appearances . . ., which were a source of income for me, were no longer a possibility. My income disappeared . . . I was angry and bitter. My means of livelihood had vanished. Unfortunately, my alcohol consumption increased dramatically. By the middle of February 1979, I began each day with four ounces of vodka. In January and February, I retained no food for 53 consecutive days. In the last week of February, I checked into a hospital in Americus, Ga., for bronchitis and detoxification. At the end of the first week of March, I submitted to the alcohol treatment program in the naval facility at Long Beach, Calif., and stayed there for almost eight weeks.
I seek no sympathy and I do not complain. I mention it here only because it bears upon my actions, my memory and my financial situation by the spring of 1979. . . .
In May 1979, . . . Randy Coleman and I went to Rome [where they discussed with Libyan representatives] prospective oil commission arrangements and the possibility of a loan from the Libyans to me. . . . I presented a loan figure of $500,000, but . . . we did not arrive at exact terms or dates for such a loan. . . .
I did not believe that the Libyans were considering these business arrangements because of any hope that I would be able to influence United States policy towards Libya. . . .
I think that the Libyans felt an obligation to help me get back on my financial feet. They never asked me for anything and I never offered or did anything for the benefit of Libyans or [their] government in relation to [U.S.] policy. . . .
[In August 1979 Carter again traveled to Libya.] As with the 1978 trip . . ., my expenses . . . were paid by the Libyan government.
By December 1979, my financial condition had continued to worsen and there appeared to be no progress as to either the loan or the Charter Oil matter. I asked Randy Coleman to travel again to Libya to see if arrangements for the loan and an increase in Charter's oil allocation could be concluded. He [did] but it produced no constructive results.
Prior to his departure . . ., I requested Randy Coleman to visit the Libyan office in Washington, D.C., and to try to obtain a $20,000 advance on the loan. Mr. Coleman did pick up a check in that amount . . . and I deposited it . . . on Dec. 31, 1979.
In March 1980, I asked Mr. Coleman and a financial adviser, Ron Sprague, to travel to Libya to see if the loan could be hastened . . . I had become quite impatient about my financial prospects and I felt that I could not obtain any loans from any conventional source in America. . . . Upon their return, [they] informed me that [Libyan official Ahmad] Shahati had said the loan had been approved. There is no doubt in my mind that the Libyans intended that I pay them back. . . . I . . . fully intend to. . . .
In April 1980, Mr. Coleman . . . receive[d] from a Libyan representative a further advance of money . . . I did not know the amount until I received the check from Randy and deposited the $200,000 . . . on April 15, 1980. Mr. Coleman and I both understood that the December check for $200,000 each represented an advance on the $500,000 loan requested by me . . . The formal, written loan agreements would have been executed upon the final approval and delivery of the $500,000 loan. Of course, that has never happened . . .
Much of the public attention which centers upon my actions involves what I did with this money. As with all other events surrounding this matter, there are no secrets and there is no need for secrets. Quite simply, I used the money to pay my bills and to repay other loans . . . Except for gifts which the Libyans gave me (as detailed on the registration statement which I filed with the Department of Justice) the expenses of my trips to Libya and the two advances on the loan, I have not received any other thing of value from the Libyan government or [its] representatives. Contrary to one newspaper article, none of the gifts was intended for my brother and none was given to him by me . . .
I did not receive a tipoff from anyone that the Department of Justice had learned of my receipt of $220,000 in loans and that I had better hurry up and make an inquiry and volunteer that information to the Department of Justice . . . There was no leaking of secret intelligence material to me; there were no tipoffs . . . I simply wanted to get the matter resolved.
Finally, I would like to deal with the subject of my relationship to my brother and to the government that he heads. I have not asked anything of Jimmy Carter or of any U.S. government representative on behalf of the Libyan government or any agency or any representative thereof.
Furthermore, the Libyans have not asked me to ask anything of the president or of any representatives of the U.S. government . . . I did talk with my brother about the country of Libya. He has never been there and we had family talks just as you would tell a member of your family about a trip you may have taken to a foreign land. I never asked my brother to do anything for the benefit of Libya. I also know that he would not do it even if I had been foolish enough to try, which I wasn't . . . Neither Jimmy Carter nor I believe that the government can or should be used in any way for the financial benefit of members of the president's family . . .
I hope this testimony will show in common-sense fashion that Billy Carter is not a "buffoon," a "boob" or a "wacko," as some public figures have so described him. I am a common citizen with uncommon financial and family problems. I want to restore order to my life, but obviously cannot do so until I have assisted all the investigators who wish my presence. . . .