The Senate Ethics Committee says Sen. Alan Cranston may have committed major ethics violations, but no action is needed against the four other members of the Keating Five.
Cranston, D-Calif., is fighting the allegations, while his colleagues are trumpeting the conclusion of their cases.The six-member committee's unanimous report Wednesday set the stage for possible censure of Cranston by the full Senate.
The panel said it found "substantial credible evidence" that "Senator Cranston engaged in an impermissible pattern of conduct in which fund-raising and official activities were substantially linked."
The committee, even while ending the four other cases, said Sens. Donald W. Riegle Jr., D-Mich., and Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., "gave the appear
ance of being improper" in their actions on behalf of former savings and loan owner Charles H. Keating Jr.
Sens. John Glenn, D-Ohio, and John McCain, R-Ariz., "exercised poor judgment," the committee concluded. But it said the two "violated no law or specific rule" of the Senate.
The panel did not repeat such a statement for Riegle and DeConcini, concluding instead that "no further action is warranted."
Keating and his associates donated $1.3 million to the campaigns and political causes of the five senators, most of it while the Federal Home Loan Bank Board was conducting its examination of Keating's now-failed Lincoln Savings and Loan of Irvine, Calif.
Lincoln was seized by federal regulators in April 1989 at a potential cost to taxpayers of more than $2 billion to cover insured deposits.
The 14-month investigation was triggered by a complaint from the public interest group Common Cause. Its president, Fred Wertheimer, called the decision "a damning indictment of the committee" because "all five senators in the Keating affair are culpable."
Wertheimer called the action on DeConcini and Riegle "indefensible and inexcusable" and said the findings on Glenn and McCain "cannot be justified."
The Ethics Committee findings against Cranston constitute a required statement detailing the specific charges against him - similar to an indictment. He now has a chance to respond and can request a hearing.
Cranston - who says he won't seek re-election next year - gave only an opening statement during two months of public hearings in the case. He did not testify because he was being treated for prostate cancer in California.
Asked if Cranston would continue to fight the allegations, his lawyer, William Taylor III, said: "You can be sure of that."