Wright Friendships Figure Prominently in Ethics Charges With PM-Wright Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Decades-long friendships with a convicted felon and a wealthy Texas developer could prove to be the undoing for House Speaker Jim Wright, who faces charges he violated 69 of the chamber’s rules.
The names of William Carlos Moore and George Mallick were frequently mentioned as the House ethics committee’s outside counsel, Richard J. Phelan, detailed the charges against Wright in his 279-page report.
The committee said Monday it found ″reason to believe″ the Texas Democrat skirted House rules limiting outside income, requiring reporting of gifts, and barring acceptance of gifts from peoplr with a direct interest in legislation.
Specifically, the committee alleged that Wright had ″an overall scheme″ to evade House limits on outside earned income by selling bulk quantities of his book, ″Reflections of a Public Man″ to groups to which he had delivered speeches. The honorarium payments - which are limited under House rules - were characterized as royalties.
The book was the brainchild of Wright and Moore, who envisioned a collection of the speaker’s earlier speeches, poems and writings which ″would be sold at low cost to a very broad audience including college students and ’average citizens,‴ said Phelan’s report.
But the book rarely made it into the hands of ″average citizens.″
″The real focus of the marketing effort for Reflections of a Public Man was on bulk sales to trade associations and other groups,″ the report said. ″Almost 98 percent of all sales ... were bulk sales of 15 or more books.″
Wright’s friendship with Moore dates back to 1954 when Moore worked for the Texan’s first congressional campaign, handing out campaign literature and canvassing voters door-to-door.
In 1963, Moore became political and legislative director of the Texas Conference of Teamsters, and later served in Washington as the union’s director of political and legislative action. In that role, Moore ″reported directly to Teamsters President James H. Hoffa.″ The former union president disappeared July 30, 1975, and his body has never been found.
In 1975, Moore pleaded guilty to one count of income tax evasion and the government in return agreed not to prosecute him for income tax evasion in 1968 and 1969 or for misappropriation of Teamsters’ funds for personal use.
Two days before his sentencing, Wright wrote to the judge asking for leniency for Moore.
″It is without reservation that I now ask the court, on Mr. Moore’s behalf, to take into consideration the obvious value to us all of Mr. Moore’s continued presence in our communities,″ Wright wrote.
Moore served 4 1/2 months of a two-year sentence in federal prison.
Mallick, a Fort Worth real estate developer, first met Wright in 1962 or 1963 when the congressman cut the ribbon opening a shopping center in the state’s Tarrant County, the report said.
Over the next 20 years, the relationship between the two men was mainly social although Mallick worked on Wright’s campaigns and he and his sons have been longtime members of the Wright Congressional Club.
As a developer, Mallick put forth the ″Mallick Concept″ of inexpensive apartments for single or newly-married people that in square footage were about the size of a House trailer.
In 1979, Mallick formed the Mallight Investment Corporation which was owned by Mallick, his wife, Marlene, and Betty and Jim Wright. The company, which later changed its name to Mallightco, was created ″for the purposes of acquiring and developing real estate, buying and selling securities and making other investments,″ the report said.
Betty Wright was placed on the Mallightco payroll in 1981 as a consultant ″hired to seek out and research new investment opportunities,″ according to Phelan’s report. Mallick and Mrs. Wright looked into investments involving converting sugar cane to alcohol, making bulgar wheat cakes and joining a limited partnership backing the movie, ″Annie.″
The committee found, however, that Mrs. Wright did little work to warrant her $18,000-a-year salary, which proved to be a financial burden for the company. Mallightco often had to borrow money or delay payment to provide Mrs. Wright with her salary.
″Mallick has produced no work product created by Mrs. Wright as an employee of Mallightco - no reports, no correspondence, no notes of telephone conversations, no investment analyses,″ the report said.
In addition, Mrs. Wright’s background as a member of the staff of the House Public Works Committee and executive secretary of a leading Fort Worth hotel did not make her qualified to evaluate possible investments, the report said.
″Mrs. Wright’s salary from Mallightco was not a bona fide salary, but rather a gift indirectly from Mallick to Jim Wright through two intermediaries - Mallightco and Mrs. Wright,″ it said.
In total, Mallick improperly provided Wright with $145,000 in gifts over a 10-year period, according to the charges, and the committee found that the Fort Worth developer had a direct interest in legislation before Congress.