Magazine article American Banker

Ethics Panel Rejects Request by Gonzalez for Probe of Leach

Magazine article American Banker

Ethics Panel Rejects Request by Gonzalez for Probe of Leach

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Reacting with unusual speed, the House Ethics Committee rejected a request from Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez to investigate the House Banking Committee's ranking Republican, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa.

In addition, Rep. Leach said in an interview Thursday that House Speaker Thomas S. Foley had called that morning to offer his support.

Rep. Gonzalez, chairman of the banking committee, had criticized Rep. Leach in a letter to the ethics panel for helping raise funds for a chair endowed in his name at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. Rep. Gonzalez called the case "especially egregious" because funds were solicited from the banking industry.

The case, he said, "calls into question the integrity of the House."

However, Rep. Leach said he agreed to lend his name to the establishment of a chair in banking and monetary economics only if he was not involved in fund-raising.

"One thing the Speaker pointed out is that he knew of no fund-raising effort that had been handled in as circumspect a manner," Rep. Leach said.

In their letter, the chairman and ranking Republican on the House Ethics Committee told Rep. Gonzalez that Rep. Leach's activities "do not indicate a violationon any law, rule, or regulation within the purview of the committee."

Members of COngress, they said, "are free to permit the use of their names by academic institutions or charitable organizations that are seeking financial contributions - from whatever the source."

The only exceptions, they said, would be if the solicitation made it appear that the House of Representatives endorsed the project or if contributions were made in an effort to influence legislation.

The letter noted that Rep. Leach did not himself engage in any official fund-raising, but said it wouldn't have mattered if he had as long as he did not use House resources or receive any direct personal benefit. …

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