JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ The department headed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, who is under fire for possible ethics violations, turned down a loan application filed by his brother.

The Rural Development Adminstration, an Agriculture Department agency, decided Thursday to reject Thomas Espy's application for a $3.5 million loan guarantee to partly underwrite a proposed latex glove factory, spokesman Steve Hart told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday.

Hart, citing privacy restrictions, would not say why the application was denied.

He said Mike Espy was aware of the loan application and his brother was ''treated as all other borrowers or applicants would have been treated.''

The agriculture secretary has been besieged recently by reports of possible ethics violations. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Espy charged the government $849 for a trip to the Super Bowl.

On Aug. 9, Attorney General Janet Reno asked a three-judge panel to appoint a special counsel to investigate reports that Espy may have violated a ban on accepting sports tickets and travel expenses from companies regulated by his department.

Reno's request is pending. Espy, a former Mississippi congressman, has denied any wrongdoing.

Thomas Espy has had previous business problems. In June 1984, he pleaded guilty to making false statements on a bank loan application and was fined $5,000 and sentenced to one year of community service and five years probation. He also was criticized for sloppy bookkeeping in overseeing campaign finances during his brother's 1988 congressional race.

Thomas Espy, contacted at his Jackson office Friday, refused to comment, saying the matter was private.