The turning point had come in late summer 1977 and had been produced by the troubles of another Georgian, Bert Lance, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. During August and September, journalists and government investigators subjected his earlier career as a banker to careful scrutiny and discovered that it contained many questionable practices. Journalists and politicians called for his resignation, as did most people who wrote to the White House or talked to pollsters. Carter continued to express great admiration for, and confidence in, his friend. But the situation became intolerable when a Senate hearing supported the work of government investigators. Before the end of September, Lance resigned, encouraged to do so by Carter because of the damage the controversy was doing, though the president retained confidence in Lance's integrity and believed he was being persecuted. To others, the episode challenged Carter's claim that he demanded a higher code of ethics than his predecessors had. In 1981, however, Lance—and also Carter—would feel vindicated when a jury acquitted the former budget officer of nine charges of bank fraud and the Justice Department dropped the other charges.
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