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Durenberger, DeConcini Plan to Retire : Politics: The GOP senator from Minnesota and Democrat of Arizona found their reelection chances clouded by charges of improper conduct.

September 17, 1993|WILLIAM J. EATON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Embattled senators Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), whose reelection chances have been clouded by allegations of improper conduct, announced Thursday that they will retire rather than face voters in 1994.

Durenberger, a moderate Republican who frequently crossed party lines to vote with Democrats, has been indicted on charges that he padded his Senate expense account by seeking reimbursement for travel costs while he stayed in an out-of-town condominium that he secretly owned. He was formally denounced by the Senate in 1990 for his conduct and is scheduled to go on trial in federal court in January.

DeConcini's political future was jeopardized by his intervention on behalf of savings and loan executive Charles H. Keating Jr. in the so-called "Keating Five" case. He also faced possible trouble at the polls because he switched sides at the last minute and voted for President Clinton's controversial tax-raising budget bill.

Their announcements bring to five the number of senators who have decided not to seek reelection next year. The other retirees--Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.), Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.) and Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio)--are leaving for an assortment of personal reasons. While Metzenbaum is 76, the other four are in their 50s, usually considered prime time of life in the Senate.

Durenberger, 59, who is regarded as an expert on health care, said that he expects to spend the rest of his term working on that issue. He was scheduled to play host in his home state today to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who planned to visit Minnesota as part of the Administration's health reform campaign.

"In the next 15 months I will give the people of Minnesota and the people of this nation the bipartisan voice they need to achieve national health care reform for which they have waited so long," he said in a statement released by his Minneapolis office. The announcement made no mention of his legal troubles.

DeConcini, 56, a moderate Democrat and former prosecutor who specialized in crime legislation, said that he would leave after his third term because he is tired of campaign fund raising.

"I detest that part of it," DeConcini told a news conference in Phoenix. "I just have had enough of all the b.s. that goes along with it."

DeConcini, first elected to the Senate in 1976, faced possible opposition from a Democrat, Arizona Secretary of State Dick Mahoney, as well as from Republican Rep. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

DeConcini's intervention with federal agencies on behalf of Keating, a savings and loan executive later convicted of fraud, created a major political problem for him, even though he and three other senators received only mild reprimands from the Senate Ethics Committee.

While Durenberger told reporters that he had been considering leaving the Senate for a long time, DeConcini said he made his decision only last weekend and informed his staff and chief political supporters Wednesday night.

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