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Cranston's Defense

August 04, 1991

The article by Sara Fritz (July 19) purports to report startling new revelations about "a document Cranston submitted to the Senate Ethics Committee Jan. 15, but which has just been made available to reporters. . . ."

The suggestion that the information was not available to the press until July, although it was submitted in January, is flatly wrong. The document was an affidavit I voluntarily submitted to the committee on Jan. 15. It was read aloud that day at a public hearing, covered live by television, radio and newspapers. My attorney read it, because I was undergoing radiation treatment in California.

Your article falsely charges that I revised my "story" about when I had first learned that federal regulators had filed a criminal referral relating to Lincoln Savings & Loan because it would be of great benefit to me if it appeared that I learned about the referral later rather than earlier.

This is pure yellow journalism.

The other four senators who have been under inquiry were informed at a meeting with regulators April 9, 1987, that a criminal referral had been filed against Lincoln Savings. I was not present when the regulators made this revelation. I discussed when I learned about the criminal referral in two paragraphs of my 23-page Jan. 15 affidavit, stating:

"I had originally thought, when endeavoring to reconstruct my memory of all this, that one of the senators who had attended the April 9 meeting told me about the criminal referral some weeks after the meeting. I have since learned that none of those senators recalls telling me about it, and that Ms. Jordan (one of my staffers) remembers bringing it to my attention after she read about it in a newspaper, much later in the year."

When I learned about the criminal referral is not really significant since the public record shows that I have always made plain that I did not stop my efforts when I heard about the referral.

The fact that some aspect of a business is the subject of a criminal referral does not make it improper for a senator to make status inquiries or to urge prompt and fair consideration of that business.

Fritz made a gross error in reporting that I contended that I was "unaware that the thrift executive was the subject of a preliminary criminal investigation by the Justice Department." She has both her facts and her conclusion wrong. There never was a criminal investigation by the Justice Department as a result of this referral. There was only a referral, and Justice never acted on the referral. Furthermore, no particular thrift executive--including Charles Keating--was the subject of the referral.

The Times ran another story on July 16 by Sara Fritz and Robert L. Jackson that contained a number of false charges attributed to anonymous "congressional sources" who alleged that my strategy in dealing with this matter included "engaging in delaying tactics, moving to disqualify one new committee member and threatening to resurrect charges that the panel previously had dismissed involving four other senators." I categorically deny each of these malicious allegations.

I have engaged in no delaying tactics. I have made no move to disqualify a new committee member. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) recently disqualified himself, due to his scrupulous concern for due process, when he discovered that his wife's law firm had a potential conflict of interest. I have made no threats to resurrect charges against other senators.

SEN. ALAN CRANSTON

D-California

Washington, D.C.

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