House ethics: the Wright stuff. For Wright, issues of royalties, arm twisting

The ethical complaints against House Speaker Jim Wright that have been raised by 72 Republican representatives and the nonpartisan lobbying group Common Cause focus on two areas: The critics claim that Mr. Wright has received uncommonly high royalties from the sale of his book, ``Reflections of a Public Man.'' The book was published by a Texas printing house run by a longtime campaign supporter of Wright, William Carlos Moore, whose company received more than $300,000 from Wright's latest reelection campaign. A large portion of the book's sales has been bulk purchases by lobbyists.

The 55 percent royalties paid to Wright - in contrast to the 15 percent or so common in the industry - may constitute an improper diversion of campaign funds to the Speaker's personal use, critics assert.

The critics also allege that the Speaker has improperly intervened with federal banking and energy regulators in behalf of powerful constituents. In some cases, they say, the interventions were intended to benefit enterprises in which the Speaker himself has a financial interest.

On Thursday, Wright vowed to cooperate with any probe, and said later, ``I feel certain I have not violated House rules.''

If the committee does choose to investigate, it could clear Wright or, in the event an impropriety is found, make recommendations to the House on action.

``It's a political sham,'' says Rep. Tony Coelho (D) of California. ``They're trying to turn attention away from Ed Meese and the 130 other members of the administration who've had ethical problems by attacking the Speaker.''

Republicans disagree. ``Politics is not the issue. ... There's enough junk floating around to look at it,'' asserts Rep. Lynn Martin (R) of Illinois. ``I've called for Meese's resignation, why shouldn't I look at the Speaker?'' -30-{et

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