BOSTON — DESPITE voter anger over bounced checks and savings-and-loan scandals, most congressional incumbents survived last month's elections. But that doesn't mean individual congressmen are out of the woods yet - as some prominent denizens of Capitol Hill are now discovering.
Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D) of Illinois, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, faces a continuing federal grand jury probe into his dealings with the now-defunct House post office. The panel is trying to determine whether Representative Rostenkowski or his staff illegally turned government vouchers and campaign checks into cash for personal use through transactions disguised as stamp purchases.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday that Rostenkowski charged taxpayers and political funds $55,000 for stamps from the House post office since 1986. The newspaper said Rostenkowski bought $1,000 or more in stamps from the House post office on at least 27 occasions.
Time magazine, in an issue released yesterday, said that the grand jury is investigating the possible laundering by Rostenkowski of $1.3 million in campaign funds. "It seems that the thousands of 29-cent stamps may never have physically changed hands at all," Time reports. "Rostenkowski's campaign may have written checks for postage and instead of getting stamps, received cash from cooperative employees at the House post office." Scandal watch II: Sexual harassment charges
Another prominent lawmaker under fire is Sen. Bob Packwood (D) of Oregon, who has been accused of sexually harassing a number of women over the years. The Oregonian, the state's largest newspaper, on Sunday called for Senator Packwood to resign, saying the bond of trust between the lawmaker and his constituents has been snapped. The editorial is all the more damaging because The Oregonian has consistently supported Packwood in the past. The senator said last week that he would not resign "under any circu mstances."
Waves of scandal are also lapping around Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawaii. Lenore Kwock, the senator's longtime hairdresser, has gone public with charges that the senator sexually harassed her over the years. But Hawaii's Democratic establishment has formed ranks around the powerful lawmaker. There have been no calls for his resignation. Rumor mill grinds on
After the last round of Clinton Cabinet appointments, speculation now focuses on the top jobs: secretary of defense and secretary of state. Rumored candidates for the Foggy Bottom posting include Warren Christopher, a Carter State Department appointee who now leads President-elect Clinton's transition team, and Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
For the Pentagon job, speculation centers on Rep. Les Aspin (D) of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Fueling the speculation is the fact that Representative Aspin has been unusually quiet about the United States operation in Somalia and about including homosexuals in the military. Rumor has it that Sen. Sam Nunn (D) of Georgia has been taken out of the running for the position because of his outspoken opposition to lifting the ban on homosexuals. Apparently, Aspin does not want t o make the same mistake. `Lowest of the low' strike back
The good folks of Arkansas have taken none too kindly to President Bush's description of their home state as the "lowest of the low." Now a group of fightin' mad Arkansans have formed the LOTL (Lowest of The Low) Society. Their T-shirts proclaim "We Ain't Trash No More!" And they are holding a celebratory bash in Washington the afternoon Mr. Clinton is sworn in. Like many Washington-based Arkansans, LOTL charter member Sydney Probst is thrilled to see his home state finally receive its due. "I'm sure th at there are people who think that we're going to show up here without our shoes on," he told the Associated Press. "I've tried to get rid of this twang since I got up here. Now I might as well keep it."