Senate Ethics Committee documents show that three senators made extra efforts to help Charles Keating protect his sinking thrift and had more frequent contact with the powerful businessman over a longer period than previously thought, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The newspaper said the confidential documents detailed the relationship between Keating and Sens. Donald Riegle of Michigan, Alan Cranston of California and Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, all Democrats.They are among five senators under investigation by the Ethics Committee for their ties to Keating, who has been held without bail in Los Angeles since his indictment last month. He has been charged with misleading investors about deals at his failed thrift, Lincoln Savings and Loan of Irvine, Calif.

The other two under investigation are Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Glenn, D-Ohio. The Ethics Committee's special counsel, Robert Bennett, has recommended that the panel drop its investigation of McCain and Glenn.

The five senators deny that their involvement with Keating resulted in impropriety. The Ethics Committee is trying to decide whether to proceed with a formal investigation. A decision could be made this week.