U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Texas, isn't the only congressman who's anxious for the House Ethics Committee to finish its investigation into allegations against him.
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, also said he is anxious for it to end so that he canleave the ethics committee and devote more time to legislation that more directly affects his constituents."I honestly am moving heaven and earth to get off the ethics committee. In 1988, we've got a very heavy legislative program," he said, including a bill to decide which areas of U.S. Bureau of Land Management landshould be declared wilderness, a bill to form a Great Western Trail from Mexico to Canada through Utah and fighting for budget items important to Hill Air Force Base.
"Being involved with the ethics committee is like having a ball and chain wrapped around your leg. . . . When it calls a meeting you have to drop everything and go. Ethics takes priority over everything. We go into committee, we sit down, six Republicans and six Democrats, and we're stuck."
He said the Republican leadership persuaded him to stay on the committee until it completes its investigation of Wright for possible ethical violations in using his staff for personal work, including having them write much of an "autobiographical" book for him.
"I've been on the committee for eight years," Hansen said. "I feel I've paid my debt to society."
Hansen said committee rules do not allow him to make any public statements on the Wright probe, including speculation on when it may end.
He said such rules are strictly enforced, and a few years ago after a press leak about an investigation into Geraldine Ferraro, the committee took depositions from several members of his staff about whether they were responsible - even staffers based in the St. George office. The committee also came to inspect how secure Hansen's files about committee work were.
Hansen said he also supports calls by both Wright and House Minority Leader Robert Michel to form a task force to revamp ethics laws governing Congress. He said he has seen what appears to be unethical conduct by many members, but no law forbids such conduct.
He said that situation has sometimes led to his committee being criticized for just "slapping the wrists" of members.