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Kim to Refund $132,000 He Made on Autobiography

August 18, 1995|LEN HALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jay C. Kim (R-Diamond Bar) will give up $132,300 in proceeds from his autobiography because of concern about the ethics of book deals made by elected officials, his aide said Thursday.

Kim, a second-term congressman, decided to refund the money after consulting with the House Ethics Committee in May, said Matt Reynolds, Kim's administrative assistant.

"The congressman worked with the committee and talked with its chairman, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson," Reynolds said. "What they exactly talked about and what we talked about with the committee's lawyers, I am not at liberty to say. But the decision was made [that] this was the best thing to do."

Kim, 56, the first Korean-born American to serve in Congress, published his Korean language autobiography, titled "I'm Conservative," in South Korea in 1994, Reynolds said.

But he had second thoughts about his book deal after seeing the recent furor kicked up over House Speaker Newt Gingrich's book, "To Renew America," now a bestseller.

The House Ethics Committee has begun looking into whether Gingrich's book resulted from a taxpayer-subsidized college course he taught.

Kim was concerned about his own book "because of the perception from all of these other book deals," Reynolds said, adding that Kim thought it was best to avoid any controversy.

Reynolds said Kim recently filed his 1994 financial disclosure forms due this past June. He had received an extension for the disclosures, which report all House members' income other than their $133,600 annual congressional salaries.

"He's refunded some of the money to some of the people who purchased the books, but it's a little bit more complicated in the sense that they are in Korea and he's in America," Reynolds said.

In 1993, Kim became the target of a federal investigation into possible election, tax and labor law violations after The Times reported that he used $480,000 from his engineering corporation to finance his congressional campaign. He denied any wrongdoing, has since sold his business and was reelected last November. Kim could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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