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Most Senators Grab Last Chance at Speaking Fees

June 13, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three-fourths of the Senate pocketed money for speechmaking in 1991 - the last year that was allowed - while a half-dozen senators paid a high price in legal fees to fight allegations of misconduct.

David Durenberger, R-Minn., reported on his financial disclosure statement Friday that he still owes as much as $600,000 to lawyers for defending him in an investigation of some of his earlier speaking fees.

Alan Cranston, D-Calif., one of five senators whose dealings with savings- and-loan financier Charles Keating were criticized, spent $243,960 in contributions on lawyers. John Glenn, D-Ohio, paid more than $100,000 for his defense in the same case.

Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., reported he still owes $50,000 to $100,000 to lawyers representing him in a probe of his finances. He borrowed an additional $15,000 to $50,000 last year from a friend, John Dellenback, whose forgiveness of an earlier loan caused some of the senator’s problems.

Orrin Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Labor and Human Resources Committee, was the biggest draw on the talk-for-pay circuit, with $92,750 in speaking fees. He kept the maximum allowed by a toughened ethics law - $23,068 - and gave the rest to charity.

Republican leader Bob Dole of Kansas grossed $90,007 in speaking fees but reported he was outdone by his wife. Elizabeth H. Dole, president of the American Red Cross, was paid $211,500 for speaking last year.

John Breaux of Louisiana led all Democrats in speaking for pay, with $47,000. David Boren, D-Okla., had $46,800; Ernest F. Hollings, D-S.C., $46,350.

As part of the deal that raised their 1992 pay to $129,500, senators agreed to accept no speaking fees or other honoraria after last Aug. 13. About three- quarters took advantage of that 7 1/2 -month grace period.

Lawmakers still travel extensively at the expense of interest groups.

Phil Gramm of Texas, who heads the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, was reimbursed for 14 separate trips. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, took nine trips.

Durenberger took a week-long trip to Kenya and Uganda at the expense of the International Foundation, an organization of Christian businessmen. Several senators visited Israel; others went to Budapest for a conference. Alfonse D’Amato, R-N.Y., flew from Washington to Rochester, N.Y., at the expense of the Kuwaiti government to discuss U.S. business opportunities in Kuwait after the Gulf War.

The disclosure statements reinforced the Senate’s image as a bastion of great wealth. Some examples:

-Herbert Kohl, D-Wis., owner of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise in the National Basketball Association, listed 12 assets worth more than $1 million apiece. They ranged from the Bucks, who grossed $21 million last year, to a horse ranch in Wyoming. He paid $1.6 million income tax on $6.4 million income, but the drop in interest rates cost him $1.7 million.

-Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., netted between $1.4 million and $10.3 million from securities sales. He listed 243 securities accounts, 92 trusts, 13 partnerships and seven bank and investment accounts.

-Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., has two blind trusts worth over $1 million each and two other trusts of unspecified size.

Because senators are required to report their holdings, debts and outside income over broad ranges, it is impossible to tell who is the richest of the rich. But the office of Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., claims he is among the poorest - with a net worth of $176,106.

Dodd’s only reported assets on the disclosure form were two bank accounts worth up to $30,000, with no outside income and no liabilities. However, a separate and more detailed statement issued by his office showed other assets, including a $275,000 house in Connecticut and a $168,200 apartment in Washington, along with mortgages and other liabilities totaling $370,600.

Joseph Biden, D-Del., looks even worse on paper: no assets except up to $15,000 of life insurance and liabilities of $100,000 to $250,000 for college loans for his sons.

Members are not required to report their private homes as assets.

John Kerry, D-Mass., was paid $448 for a walk-on on ″Cheers″ but returned the money because it came in after the tighter ethics law barred such fees for appearances. Bill Bradley. D-N.J., earned $239 for reruns of his cameo on ″The Cosby Show.″

Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, was paid $22,500 in advances on his environmental book, ″World on Fire.″ Hatch is still earning royalties, $4,836 last year, for his ″Living Scriptures″ tapes. His Republican colleague from Utah, Jake Garn, who once flew on the space shuttle, picked up $689 in royalties from his novel, ″Night Launch,″ about the hijacking of an international space crew.

Bennett Johnston, D-La., sold $14,653 worth of crops from his Magnolia Plantation. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, grossed $52,602 from his farms but went $7,000 into the hole.

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