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More Senators Cut Back on Speaking Fees, Trips : Honorariums: Records show at least 19 rejected appearance funds and four gave them to charity in 1989. The lawmakers had been stung by scandal.

May 31, 1990|SARA FRITZ and PAUL HOUSTON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

WASHINGTON — Stung by a continuing ethics scandal, many Senate members cut back dramatically on the practice of accepting honorariums and all-expenses-paid trips from special interest groups in 1989, according to documents made public Wednesday.

Even though the Senate refused last year to join the House in banning honorariums, at least 19 senators declined to accept any appearance fees last year--a net increase of five since 1988. Another four senators accepted the money, but gave it away to charity.

Prominent among those who gave up honorariums last year was Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), one of seven senators currently under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee on various charges.

In addition, many senators sharply curtailed their previous habit of taking lengthy trips to Europe and popular warm-weather resorts at the expense of well-heeled lobbying groups. For example, Sen. J. James Exon (D-Neb.), who took 10 such trips in 1988, abruptly halted his free travels in 1989 after three outings in early January.

Nevertheless, the records revealed new details involving the problems faced by one the seven senators currently under investigation. Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.) acknowledged in his report that he previously had failed to disclose a $484,000 loan and the use of a Florida condominium in each of the past three years.

Despite the adverse publicity created by the lengthy investigation, which will culminate with a public, trial-like hearing next month, Durenberger collected $62,100 in honorariums last year. He also took numerous trips at the expense of special interests--including a three-week tour of 21 countries in the Middle East and Far East at the expense of the International Foundation, a New York-based world relief organization.

Altogether, the annual reports made available by the Senate records office show that 74 senators received $2.7 million in honorariums last year. Besides the 19 who took no honorariums, seven senators have not yet filed reports.

The median for those who reported receiving honorariums was $35,000.

The undisputed Senate leader in honorariums was Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), a popular speaker who collected $108,900 in appearance fees. Unlike many of his colleagues, Dole earned more honorariums last year than in 1988, when he was preoccupied by his unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Even so, Dole's honorarium total was smaller than those reported Tuesday by three members of the House: Reps. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), William H. Gray III (D-Pa.) and Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.). The House has voted to ban the practice beginning next January.

Other Senate honorarium leaders include Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with $92,499; Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), $90,600; Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), $73,450, and John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), $66,000. Under Senate rules, members can pocket up to $35,850; the rest must be given to charity. But they are not required to identify the recipients.

Cranston was one of seven senators who accepted honorariums in 1988 but chose to give them up last year. The others were Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.); Bill Bradley (D-N.J.); Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.); Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio); Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

At the same time, Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) and John Heinz (R-Pa.) reported giving all their honorariums to charity. Reid had not reported receiving any honorariums in 1988. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.), who was elected in 1988, was the only new member to turn the funds over to charity.

According to Common Cause, another 11 senators have vowed to forgo pocketing their honorariums this year. And Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who accepted $15,000 in honorariums last year, has since authored a bill that would abolish the practice, but the Senate has yet to vote on the measure this year.

Of the five senators, including Cranston, currently under investigation for allegedly doing favors for Lincoln Savings & Loan owner Charles H. Keating Jr. in exchange for political contributions, only Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) acknowledged keeping honorariums received last year.

Riegle reported receiving $52,800, of which $18,000 went to charity. He carefully specified that all fees he received from industries, lobbyists and law firms had been donated to charity. He said that he kept only those fees received from universities, think tanks and study groups such as Washington Campus, which he helped to found.

Durenberger, who has been charged with violating federal law and Senate rules in his personal financial dealings, reported receiving honorariums from 18 groups with business before the Finance Committee's health subcommittee, on which he is a major player. Several of them funded trips he took to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla., and New Orleans.

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