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Furor over Billy Carter’s Remarks

January 15, 1979
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President Carter sought this weekend to dissociate himself from his brother Billy’s support of Libya and negative comments about Jews, but stressed that any attempt on his part to clamp down on Billy Carter would be “counterproductive” The White House had earlier issued a dental that the President shared any of his brother’s views that could be “interpreted as anti-Semitic.” However, neither the President nor the White House specifically repudiated the remarks by Billy Carter that American Jewish leaders termed anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, Jewish groups and the chairman of the Republican Party have demanded that the Justice Department investigate whether the President’s brother should have registered as a foreign lobbyist because he is leading a group of 60 Libyans in a tour of Georgia and other parts of the United-States.

President Carter, in an interview with NBC-TV’s John Chancellor, said that while he and his brother love each other they disagree strongly on many issues “Any criticism I might make publicly of Billy would cause, I think, him to react very strongly and to exert his independence, he said The President-stated that “I don’t lock on Billy’s actions as a basis for success in future political actions.” He added that he hoped “the people of the United States realize I have no control” over Billy Carter.

The President has been clearly embarrassed by his younger brother’s associations with a group of Libyans who Billy Carter-called his “best friends” although the U.S. government considers Libya, a bitter enemy of Israel, an impediment to the President’s Middle fast peace efforts.

Billy Carter, meanwhile, has been quoted in Atlanta as attributing Libya’s negative image to the “Jewish media” and charging that Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson had refused to see the visiting Libyans because of” Jewish pressure.” He also said that the U.S. should seek friendship with Libya because “there’s a hell of a lot more Arabs than there is Jews. “Billy Carter claimed last Thursday, while guiding the Libyans through Plains, Ga., that his remarks were not intended to be anti-Semitic.”

Both Jackson and Governor George Busbee of Georgia declined to attend a reception for the Libyans last Tuesday night of the Atlanta Hilton Hotel. However, the President’s mother, Lillian Carter, and his sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, the evangelist, attended the reception.


The Department of Justice, meanwhile, has sent a letter to Billy Carter pointing out that any American who works with foreign governments must register as a foreign agent. A copy of the law was also sent. The Department said it expected a reply by late this week. Billy Carter has maintained he is not a foreign agent since he receives no money from the Libyans.

Republican National Chairman Bill Brock demanded action by the Justice Department and called on the President to issue “clear and unequivocal” criticism of his brother’s Libyan association as well as “his inflammatory and anti-Semitic remarks.”

Rabbi Joseph P. Sternstein, president of the American Zionist Federation, has also demanded that “the extent of Billy Carter’s association with Libya be publicly revealed” and there should be a “vigorous investigation” of whether he has broken any laws. Sternstein said the President must “dissociate himself unequivocally from his brother’s political sentiments and outrageous opinions.”

Robert Havel, a State Department spokesman, said last Thursday night that the Department might have to ask Billy Carter whether he has accepted any money from the Libyan officials for his escort services. While adding that “no investigation” of Billy Carter was being made, Havel said the Department might have to determine whether the President’s brother should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Havel added that the Department’s foreign agents registration section would study Billy Carter as he moves across the nation with the Libyan officials, who are scheduled to visit Louisiana, California, Wyoming, Utah, Michigan, Washington and New York. Havel said” if there is no money changing hands,” Billy Carter did not have to register.

The Atlanta Jewish Welfare Federation denounced the trip as “contrary to everything.” the President is trying to do Daniel Thursz, executive vice-president of B’nai B’rith, said Billy Carter has “a long record of boorishness and despicable behavior.” Thursz added that “it is unfortunate the comments of an obviously irresponsible and unthinking person, who by happenstance is the brother of the President of the United States, is given such prominence.”

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