Harris Accepts Lance’s Resignation, Mulls Successor
ATLANTA (AP) _ Gov. Joe Frank Harris accepted Bert Lance’s resignation as chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party on Monday, saying it will spare the party any fallout from a probe of the former federal budget director’s banking practices.
The governor said Lance ″has acted promptly and properly. I commend him for the concern he has shown regarding any possible adverse impact on the party as a result of his own financial situation.″
First Vice Chairman Maxine Goldstein has been appointed acting chairman, said Lansing Lee, the party’s executive director.
The resignation came less than two weeks after publication of a report from a federal investigation into Lance’s banking practices as chairman of the Calhoun First National Bank. The investigation began in October.
Allegations of illegal check kiting and other ″unsound banking practices″ were contained in a federal bank examiner’s report sent to First Calhoun directors in May, and published June 28 by The Atlanta Constitution.
Lance has denied the allegations.
″If I have to fight the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) over the coming months to stop their abuse and harassment, then that should be my fight and not the party’s,″ Lance said in a letter to the party’s executive committee.
Lance, a close friend of former President Jimmy Carter, was federal budget director until 1977, when he resigned over investigations into his banking activities. He was indicted for bank fraud but was acquitted.
The governor named Lance chairman of the Georgia Democratic party in 1982.
The party’s by-laws require Goldstein to call a meeting of the executive committee between 10 and 30 days after the resignation to fill the vacancy.
Goldstein, Wayne Reece of Atlanta, the executive committee’s attorney, and Ben Dixon of Macon, one of three party vice chairmen, have been mentioned as possible successors to Lance.
Others mentioned were Jim Oxendine, a Gwinnett County attorney; John Henry Anderson, a member of the state Board of Regents and Pitts Carr, an Atlanta attorney and former 5th District Democratic chairman.