“Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, to find me guilty of complicity in the Riggs account, you would have to accept the word of a proven liar, cheat, and embezzler. You would have to accept his word against that of a senator who has held the trust of his colleagues and his constituents for 23 years – a senator who would not have jeopardized his career, betrayed his colleagues, and abused the trust of his beloved state of Georgia for any reason, let alone a few dollars.”
Editor’s Note: Following a string of personal tragedies including the untimely death of his son and a public divorce, the U.S. Senate opened an investigation into allegations of financial misconduct by Herman Talmadge. The above excerpt comes from Talmadge’s opening statements at the Senate trial in which he maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing. Both his ex-wife and his former administrative assistant testified against Talmadge during the trial providing incriminating testimony that Talmadge refuted.
Ultimately, the Senate investigating committee found that Talmadge received over $40,000 in excess reimbursements and misrepresented his campaign funds in reports to the Senate as well as other evidence of misconduct. Having found evidence that Talmadge neglected his duty to oversee the proper administration of his office, the Senate voted unanimously to denounce Talmadge. While Talmadge was not removed from office, he was ordered him to reimburse the Senate for the misappropriated funds which he willingly paid. Shortly after the Senate’s vote to denounce Talmadge, he faced the voters of Georgia in his 1980 bid for reelection and found he no longer had the popularity to easily win the hearts and votes of Georgians.