Sen. Dennis DeConcini says the government's former top thrift regulator is trying to blame "five distinguished senators" for his own failures in the savings and loan debacle.
The Arizona Democrat ended two days of testy questioning by the Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday, maintaining he violated no ethics standards in trying to assist S&L owner Charles H. Keating Jr. in dealings with regulators.The committee recessed until Tuesday, when it plans to hear from final witnesses and begin closing oral arguments from lawyers for the so-called Keating Five senators under investigation.
The public hearings, which began Nov. 15, could end Wednesday, with the panel then beginning private deliberations on recommendations and possible punishment.
DeConcini sought to turn the tables on his principal accuser, former federal thrift regulator Edwin J. Gray. DeConcini said Gray had proven inadequate in dealing with savings and loan failures and, in an attempt to protect his own reputation, tried to put blame on the senators.
"Mr. Gray realized what was happening, so now he has to shift the blame, and what does he do?" DeConcini said. "He points the finger at five distinguished senators."
Gray, former chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, has testified that DeConcini led efforts by the senators to pressure the board to go easy on Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The Irvine, Calif. thrift's subsequent failure is expected to cost taxpayers up to $2 billion.
The ethics panel is investigating whether the five senators improperly intervened with regulators on behalf of Lincoln and whether their actions were linked to $1.3 million that Keating raised for their re-election and related campaigns.