Magazine article American Banker

Gonzalez Keeps Up Pressure for Ethics Probe of Leach

Magazine article American Banker

Gonzalez Keeps Up Pressure for Ethics Probe of Leach

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-Tex., continued to press his complaint against Rep. Jim Leach's efforts on behalf of a small Iowa college, arguing that the House Ethics Committee should consider whether such activities should be barred.

Last week, the panel told the banking committee chairman that Rep. Leach's activities were well within the bounds of permissible behavior.

Waverly-based Wartburg College is raising money for an endowed teaching position named after Rep. Leach, the banking committee's ranking Republican.

Although Rep. Leach did not solicit funds for the college, the ethics committee said he would have been free to do so. Part of the funding came from the banking and financial services industry, and Rep. Gonzalez suggested in his original letter to the ethics panel that the industry's participation created a potential conflict of interest.

Disclosure Requirements

"I appreciate your statements on House rules, but a response that a practice is allowable under the rules begs the question of whether the practice should be allowable under the rules," Rep. Gonzalez said.

Rep. Gonzalez compared Rep. Leach's situation to that of a House member who directs that payments be made to a local charity in lieu of an honorarium for a speech. Such payments, he said, must be reported under House rules and fund-raising activities such as the Wartburg teaching chair also should be subject to disclosure, he argued.

"Alternatively, the rules of the House should be amended to prohibit what is clearly a circumvention of the intent of disclosure and reporting laws," he added.

"The same principle is involved in all these situations - that contributions are being made because of a desired connection between a lobbyist and a member," he said.

In a postscript to the letter, Rep. Gonzalez added a particularly sharp criticism that appeared to be aimed directly at Rep. …

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