A Broken Lance

BERT LANCE's resignation as director of the Office of Management of Budget was an unavoidable resolution of the controversy that has surrounded him since June. The allegations of improprieties in his private banking activities suggest his integrity is less than complete, and Lance's use of a strong counterattack to defend himself at last week's Senate hearings is partially justified by the aggressive nature of the media and certain Congressional critics, but such a defense could never have made him palatable as a high government official.

Lance's family and campaign bank accounts show significant overdrafts; he apparently secured two loans with the same stock as collateral; he may have used funds to secure personal loans, and he used his bank's plane indiscriminately. This is certainly not a record to be proud of. Lance consistently ignored the interests of his depositors, violating sound banking practices and probably the law. His dealings with the Comptroller's Office investigating him raises additional questions about his integrity.

Lance's continued tenure in office would only have obscured other, more important issues and sapped the administration's political strength at a time when it is critically needed.

No administration should have appointed Lance to as important a post as director of OMB. What he lacked in budget experience he compensated for with his close ties to President Carter. Though Carter may value his advice, and loyalty is always an admirable quality, the president's delay in taking action on Lance seems to be hypocritical coming from the man who asked, "Why not the best?" At best, the Lance affair may serve as a lesson for future presidents who value friendship over ability and the national interest.