Sen. Dennis DeConcini strongly defended himself Monday against wrongdoing in his dealings with savings and loan owner Charles Keating Jr. and accused the Senate Ethics Committee's special counsel of relying on rumor and hearsay.
"I resent this man tying this senator . . . to bribery, to a crook," DeConcini said of statements by Robert S. Bennett, the special counsel who is presenting evidence about the relationship between Keating and the so-called "Keating Five" senators.DeConcini, an Arizona Democrat, was the last of the five senators to offer an opening statement defending himself to the ethics committee. He said Bennett's evidence "contains hearsay . . . contains rumors, unfounded allegations about all of the senators."
"He wants another trophy on the wall," DeConcini said.
The other four, Republican John McCain of Arizona and Democrats Alan Cranston of California, John Glenn of Ohio and Donald Riegle of Michigan, offered emotional personal statements on Friday against allegations they improperly intervened with federal regulators on behalf of Keating, a financial contributor to their campaigns and causes.
DeConcini said Monday it was "ridiculous" for Bennett to suggest that campaign contributions from Keating or any other constituent were tied to his efforts to help those constituents with "a legitimate beef" with the federal government.
"They have a right to ask for your intervention," DeConcini said.
He said federal regulators and bureaucrats "often are wrong" in dealing with constituents, and "somebody ought to stand up for" those constituents.
He repeatedly referred to Bennett as "special prosecutor" rather than his title "special counsel" and said Bennett tried "to tilt the facts" against himself and other senators.
DeConcini said he pays special attention to helping constituents, and said he did no more for Keating than he would for other constituents, without regard to campaign contributions.
In defending his involvement with Keating, he said Keating "is a different person than he is perceived today." He said Keating had contributed substantially to Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the poor.