Because Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, has investigated savings-and-loan scandals involving big-name Republicans, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, now is pressuring him to also investigate some dealing with big-name Democrats.
Hatch wrote Metzenbaum, chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, monopolies and business rights, asking him to investigate CenTrust Savings, a failed Miami S&L.Its former owner, David Paul, has strong ties to Senate Democrats. Hatch and Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., also asked him to look into activities of Carl Rheuban, another S&L operator who has donated to many Democrats, including Metzenbaum.
"The two of them (Paul and Rheuban) combined are probably bigger than the Keating affair," Hatch said.
Hatch said Metzenbaum is willing to investigate CenTrust, if Hatch will help provide guidance - "even though he has a much bigger staff for that than I do."
Many Republicans, such as Minority Whip Alan Simpson of Wyoming, have charged that Metzenbaum's subcommittee doesn't have jurisdiction for such S&L investigations, and claim Metzenbaum has pursued them only to embarrass Republicans.
They are especially bitter about a Feb. 7 hearing on Southwest Savings & Loan of Phoenix, which Republicans felt was an attempt to wound Republican Fife Symington, who last week was elected Arizona governor in a runoff election.
Questions were raised about Symington's ties to the S&L at the hearing, but Symington was not informed about it in advance. Hatch complained that Metzenbaum had earlier told him he was not interested in Symington's activities, just the failed S&L.
"Had I known what he would do, I wouldn't have let him proceed," said Hatch, who is a member of Metzenbaum's committee.
"Howard is one of those people who is the most partisan around here," Hatch said. "Still, he can allow the chips to fall where they may. As long as he does that, I'll support him."
He added, "I think these investigations really ought to be done by the Banking Committee. But the Antitrust Committee has some legitimate interest in fraud . . . . He has been for cracking Republicans hard - as I have, too, when they deserve it - but I want him to look into these others, too."