Most Utahns think U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas should resign his speakership because of the ethics charges against him, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
The House Ethics Committee believes Wright may have violated House rules 69 times over the past 10 years. The special counsel hired to investigate Wright says the speaker violated the rules 116 times. Wright will now respond to the committee and ultimately the House itself will vote on his fate.Pollster Dan Jones & Associates found that 55 percent of Utahns believe Wright definitely or probably should resign his speakership. Only 19 percent say he shouldn't resign and 25 percent didn't know.
Four of Utah's five congressmen are Republicans and, understandably, have been harsh on Wright.
Art Kingdom, press aide for Utah's only Democrat, Rep. Wayne Owens, said Owens hasn't addressed the question of whether or not Wright should resign. "But the congressman does believe Wright has used bad judgment in a number of cases," Kingdom said.
Jones found that 56 percent of Owens' 2nd District constituents think Wright should resign, 22 said he shouldn't and 23 percent didn't know.
The speaker serves at the pleasure of the House, which is controlled 259-174 by Democrats. Resigning his speakership wouldn't necessarily end the ethics investigation, only resigning from the House itself could do that.
The Ethics Committee formally charged Wright with accepting improper gifts from his long-time friend George Mallick, including Mallick's payment of $18,000 per year to Wright's wife, Betty. The committee believes she did little or no work. It also charged that Mallick let the Wrights use a car and a Fort Worth condominium.
The committee believes Wright used bulk sales of his book, "Reflections of a Public Man" - a collection of Wright speeches - to bypass the House's limitations on outside income.
Wright vows to fight the charges and says he'll fully defend the reputations of he and his wife before the committee. However, a number of congressional observers say should the committee formally find Wright violated the ethics rules, and the full House vote some kind of penalty for him, it's unlikely he could survive as speaker.
In your opinion, should Jim Wright resign as speaker of the House of Representatives in light of the ethics charges against him?
Definitely should 34 percent
Probably should 21 percent
Probably should not 12 percent
Definitely should not 7 percent
Don't know 25 percent
Sample size: 614; margin of error plus or minus 4 percent