In its ``Keating Five'' decisions this week the Senate Ethics Committee may have nudged forward bipartisan campaign-finance reform. The panel also recommended the Senate for the first time set standards for intervening with federal officials on behalf of a constituent or contributor. Meanwhile, ``senators ... should try to use the basic concept of what's right and wrong,'' said panel chairman Howell Heflin (D) of Alabama.
On the five senators accused of having aided savings-and-loan owner Charles Keating in return for campaign contributions, the panel concluded:
``Substantial credible evidence'' exists that Sen. Alan Cranston (D) of California ``may have engaged in improper conduct.'' Senator Cranston may answer the charges; then the committee likely will ask the full Senate to discipline him.
The conduct of both Dennis DeConcini (D) of Arizona and Donald Riegle (D) of Michigan ``gave the appearance of being improper and was certainly attended with insensitivity and poor judgment,'' but did not violate law or Senate rules.
Sens. John McCain (R) of Arizona and John Glenn (D) of Ohio each on one occasion exercised ``poor judgment'' on behalf of Keating, the panel said, but were not guilty of improper conduct, or violation of law or rules.