Ethics Probes Into Brown, Packwood Move Ahead

TWO ethics cases took significant turns yesterday.

A preliminary Senate Ethics Committee review into sexual harassment allegations against Sen. Bob Packwood (R) of Oregon has found probable cause to proceed further, congressional sources say.

The committee of three Republicans and three Democrats is filing a formal complaint and planned to make it public yesterday, the sources said.

The senator, who chairs the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, will be given a chance to respond and will be offered a hearing on the charges, the sources said. Mr. Packwood's press secretary, Bobbi Munson, said she had no comment. But Packwood has in the past apologized for ''terribly offensive'' conduct toward women.

And the Justice Department has filed sealed court papers in the investigation of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, but it it not clear whether it requested appointment of a special prosecutor.

Justice Department spokesman John Russell said Tuesday night that the department could not discuss the matter until a special panel of three federal judges ordered the file made public.

Attorney General Janet Reno has been reviewing allegations that Brown hid several investments and potential conflicts of interest by filing incomplete and misleading financial disclosure reports. Deliberately including false information on the disclosure form is illegal.

Congressional and administration sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they believe Ms. Reno is seeking a special prosecutor. White House aides, speaking on condition on anonymity today, said President Clinton is not expected to push Mr. Brown out of the Cabinet.

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