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GOP in House Seeks Probe of One of Its Own

June 22, 1989|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, seeking to defuse a political problem, took the unprecedented step Wednesday of triggering an investigation of one of their own: Rep. Donald E. (Buz) Lukens of Ohio.

The action on Lukens, who was convicted last month on charges involving sex with a 16-year-old girl, came on a show of hands in a closed-door meeting of the Republican Conference, the organization of all GOP House members.

Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said in a statement that the move was part of a Republican "total commitment to standards of behavior for members of Congress which reflect honorably on the institution and the nation."

However, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) said the Republicans seemed to be trying to score "a political point . . . apparently at the expense of one of their own members." He said any GOP attempt to make ethics a partisan issue was "absolute nonsense and the public knows it."

The House Ethics Committee, formally the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, had been expected to investigate Lukens anyway. If the committee finds him to have violated House rules it could recommend penalties ranging from a reprimand to expulsion.

Republicans have set ethics reform in the House among their top priorities for the 101st Congress. And they hope to capitalize in the next elections by pointing to the resignations of Democratic Whip Tony Coelho of California and the expected resignation of Jim Wright of Texas, who was House Speaker, in the face of ethics allegations.

But Lukens' conviction on May 30 in Franklin County, Ohio, of contributing to the unruliness and delinquency of a minor, has been an embarrassment to his own party.

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