Precede NEW YORK Helms Issues Report Saying Cranston Conduct ‘Reprehensible’
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Jesse Helms, frustrated with the pace of the Keating Five investigation, issued a report today that concluded Sen. Alan Cranston should be censured for ″reprehensible″ conduct.
The report was released by Helms, R-N.C., in his own name but the senator said it was basically the findings of committee outside counsel Robert S. Bennett. However, Helms did not make clear how he modified Bennett’s report.
Helms said he acted alone because the committee spent more than 18 months investigating the five senators linked to former S&L owner Charles H. Keating Jr. - with ″no adequate resolution of the case in sight.″
Bennett’s report has not been approved by the committee, which is a member short and waiting for a replacement in the deliberations on Cranston, D-Calif.
The committee ended its probe of the other four senators in February with varying degrees of criticism, but proposed no action by the Senate. Only Cranston’s fate was unresolved.
The report sharply criticizes the links between Cranston’s intervention with federal regulators on behalf of Keating’s failing Lincoln Savings and Loan - and his solicitation of contributions from Keating.
Helms’ proposed resolution said Cranston ″knowingly and willfully engaged in am impermissible pattern of conduct that violated Senate rules, standards and acceptable norms of ethical conduct.″
The resolution said Cranston’s conduct ″has been reprehensible and has brought the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.″
In the report, Helms said that from early 1987 through 1989, Cranston or his staff contacted federal regulators on behalf of Lincoln ″at least a dozen times.″
During the same period, the report found Cranston ″solicited or accepted from Mr. Keating’s companies contributions totaling $850,000 to voter registration groups with which Sen. Cranston was closely affiliated.″
He said Cranston’s office practices linked fund-raising and official activities, creating ″the appearance of impropriety.″ Contributors were encouraged to believe, the report said, that the senator ″was susceptible to being influenced by political contributions in the performance of his public duties.″
The panel currently is unable to finish its deliberations because Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. dropped out of the Cranston deliberations due to a conflict involving his wife’s law firm.
Murray S. Flander, Cranston’s press spokesman, issued a statement that Helms ″obviously is trying to pressure his fellow senators on the committee in hopes of achieving by intimidation what he cannot achieve by logic and fair play.″
Flander said Helms’ action ″provides further proof that Sen. Helms is extremely prejudiced and is unfit to sit in judgment on ethical issues.″
The panel said in February the conduct of Sens. Donald W. Riegle Jr., D- Mich. and Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz. ″gave the appearance of being improper″ while Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz. and John Glenn, D-Ohio used poor judgment.
The failure of Lincoln is expected to cost taxpayers some $2.6 billion.