Newspaper Reports Regulator Raised Money for Senator
Aug. 26, 1990
DENVER (AP) _ The federal regulator who oversaw Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan solicited campaign money for a congressman charged with supervision of the S&L industry, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The Denver Post said Kermit Mowbray, former president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka, Kan., solicited campaign funds from other regulators for former Sen. David Karnes, R-Neb., then a member of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee.
Karnes was chairman of the Topeka bank before being appointed to the Senate in 1987 when Democrat Ed Zorinsky died. He ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 1988.
Karnes said he was unaware of campaign contributions from Mowbray and other regulators.
Edwin Gray, former chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which in turn governed the Topeka bank, said Mowbray's fund-raising ''shows very poor judgment. It's dead wrong.''
''If there was any kind of coercion, I would say that it is at the least highly improper and possibly a violation of the law,'' Gray said.
Federal law prohibits government employees from raising money for federal campaigns, but does not apply to Home Loan Bank employees.
Mowbray gave $2,000 to Karnes' campaign in June 1987 and suggested to presidents of the Home Loan Bank system's 12 regional banks that they also contribute.
''I didn't see anything wrong with that,'' Mowbray told the Post.
The bailout of the nationwide savings and loan industry is expected to cost taxpayers at least $500 billion. The objectivity of thrift regulators has become an issue in the Silverado case largely because President Bush's son, Neil, was a director of the Denver thrift, which failed at a cost of $1 billion to taxpayers.
Last month, the Treasury Department began investigating allegations that Mowbray deliberately postponed seizing Silverado until after the 1988 presidential election to protect Bush from bad publicity.
Mowbray told the House Banking Committee in June that he received a telephone call from Washington in October 1988 ordering the delay. The thrift was seized in December 1988, after the November presidential election. He said he did not remember who made the call.
Shortly after Silverado failed, Mowbray left his job at the Topeka bank.
During his tenure, Karnes was a bank board member along with Silverado chairman Michael Wise, who donated $2,000 to Karnes' campaign.
As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Karnes proposed the ''Thrift Charter Enhancement Act of 1988,'' which sought to create incentives for investors to place additional capital in the thrift industry.
Federal election records also show that Thurman Connell, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and Brian Dittenhaufer, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, each gave $500 to Karnes' campaign.
Karnes said last week he never discussed Neil Bush or Silverado with Mowbray.