National stories that a research institute named after Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, received $21,600 from federal agencies that regulate savings and loans should not suggest any unethical wrongdoing by the senator, his press secretary says.

Laurie Snow Turner said Garn "has no administrative or managerial ties" to the Garn Institute of Finance at the University of Utah. "He does attend their functions. They have a dinner once a year or so, and he attends that."Therefore, she said Garn does not know the context of the details behind the donations and has no way to judge yet whether the donations were proper.

Stories in the Washington Post and wire services Thursday said the donations came from agencies of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which oversees the troubled savings and loan industry. The chairman of that board, M. Danny Wall, was formally a top aide to Garn. His wife is the senator's personal secretary.

Turner said the institute was formed in 1986 as a non-profit "think tank" to research banking issues. "It was named for the senator because of his work with financial legislation," Turner said.

Garn was at the time chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and is now its ranking minority member. He sponsored legislation in 1982 that deregulated the banking industry.

The Washington Post said Thursday that the institute, according to a report it issued, had received $6,000 from the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., the troubled Home Loan Bank Board agency that insures S&Ls.