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Honorable Richard Bryan


U. S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20010

Dear Senator Bryan:

I am writing to file a complaint against U.S. Senator Phil Gramm.

1. Senator Gramm used public monies from his official expense account to fund large amounts of "campaign-oriented" travel in Texas for the two years preceding his 1990 re-election bid. Gramm used his senate staff to perform "campaign-oriented" activities during his re-election effort.

2. Senator Gramm abused his franking privilege by improperly directing volunteers to send videotapes of television newscasts to Gramm's offices in franked envelopes.

3. Senator Gramm improperly spent at least $9,000 from his official expense account to fund a trip that included taking his wife and sons hunting, and travel to a college bowl game. Records from that trip indicate that Gramm performed four hours and 35 minutes of official work during the five day trip.

These complaints are based on a series of articles written by Richard Whittle, and published in the Dallas Morning News on July 25-26, 1993.

Complaint #1: Gramm used public monies and his Senate staff for "campaign-oriented" activities.

In a Dallas Morning News on July 25, 1993, titled "Papers offer a rare view of Gramm," Richard Whittle quotes a January 1990 report from Ruth Cymber, Gramm's chief senate aide:

We are now clearly focused on the 1990 campaign....We have made the transition from a Senate-oriented staff to a campaign-oriented staff ....We are investing our state resources heavily in events that generate media and/or crowds and maximize the senator's time.....We have done an excellent job, through scheduling, special projects and our press operation in obtaining free, positive MEDIA.

The article explains how Senator Phil Gramm used his senate staff to execute hundreds of media events across Texas during Gramm's re-election effort. Whittle wrote that:

The papers and interviews with former aides reveal that as of the time Ms. Cymber spoke [wrote], 20 of the 27 Senate-paid employees in Mr. Gramm's Texas offices were used exclusively or primarily to create, organize, publicize and analyze the results of media events staged during trips to the state. Mr. Gramm employed 35 aides in Washington.

Those aides helped arrange a busy texas travel schedule at Senate expense.

An analysis of Senator Gramm's travel expenses shows that he spent $116,149.25 on air travel, and daily expenses during 1989, which is more than $47,000 more than he spent on similar expenses on any other year between 1986 and 1993. When spending patterns during 1986-93 are broken down into four-month periods, four of the five largest air travel expense periods occurred in 1989 or 1990. According to the Dallas Morning News article, then-Senator Lloyd Bentsen spent $18,284.14 and $18,255.83 in 1987 and 1988 for senate-paid travel in Texas.

These statistics show that Gramm's spending on air travel peaked precisely during the period when Gramm's Senate staff was "campaign-oriented," to use the words of Ms. Cymber. This clearly demonstrates that Senator Gramm improperly used Senate resources to perform campaign-related activities. How else can one interpret the dramatic increase in official travel spending during 1989 and 1990, and its later subsidence after Gramm's re-election had been accomplished.

Whittle's story continues:

An inch-thick scheduling report presented to the 1990 staff retreat listed 630 stops Mr. Gramm had made during the 101 days he spent in Texas between Dec. 8 1988 and Dec. 10 1989. Illustrated with color charts and graphs, the report categorized 408 stops as "Actual Media Events" including 237 "Actual Electronic Media Events" and 171"Non-Electronic Media Events"

For each media event, then-scheduling director Alan Hill catalogued not only the date, time, location, and topic but also whether it was created or invited.

The report said that Mr.Gramm attended 70 events to which he was invited and 560 created by his staff.

This intensive use of senate resources for "campaign-oriented" activities is a clear violation of Senate rules, and federal law. 31 U.S.C. 1301(a) states that:

Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law.

Appropriations designated for Senator Gramm's official expense account, and for his personnel expense ought not to fund "campaign-oriented" travel and activities.

The Senate Committee on Rules and Administration's policy for the use of senate rooms (revised January 1992) states that "Senate space may NOT be used for any campaign...purpose whatsoever."

Complaint #2: Gramm abused his franking privilege.

According to an article in the Dallas Morning News on July 25, 1993 titled "Use of franked envelopes for videotapes raises questions," volunteers working for Senator Gramm have admitted to sending videotapes of news programs containing clips of Senator Gramm to Gramm's Senate offices.

"I got some envelopes and a blank tape in the mail today," Sue Zabcik, 69, of Temple [Texas], one of the network of volunteer tapers managed by Mr. Gramm's Senate staff, said in a May 13 telephone interview.

"They're franked," she said of the envelopes.


In separate telephone interviews volunteer tapers Phyllis Harper, 63, and Marge Croninger, 52, both of Temple, also said that Mr. Gramm's office had sent them franked envelopes for use in sending back videotapes of newscasts.

In the same article, Senator Gramm defended this use of use of the frank:

"The function that we are undertaking is totally and absolutely appropriate, and we have every intention to continue to do it."

The Dallas Morning News article titled "Papers offer a rare view of Gramm" includes the following description:

Mr. Gramm's regional aides were required to manage "pathfinders" -- "at least three volunteers taping for every station in every television market that is not covered by a regional office," as the same [official Gramm senate] document puts it.

Senator Gramm's use of the frank to collect videotapes violates Senate Ethics rules, and federal law.

Senate Select Committee on Ethics Interpretive Ruling No. 303 (February 21, 1980) addresses the question of whether it is acceptable for a Senator to "distribute return-addressed franked envelopes in his state, who would use the envelopes to mail copies of local newspapers to his Washington office." The Ethics Committee ruled that it

does not believe that this proposed use of franked envelopes is proper...The Committee has consistently taken the position (see e.g. Interpretive Ruling No. 127, dated May 12, 1978) that because of the opportunity for alteration of the mailed matter or the misuse of the frank, franked envelopes may not be processed, mailed, or distributed by any outside individual or organization.

According to 39 U.S.C 3215: Lending or Permitting Use of Frank Unlawful:

A person entitled to use a frank may not lend it or permit its use by any committee, organization, or association or permit its use by any person for the benefit or use of any committee, organization, or association.

The Regulations Governing the Use of the Mailing Frank state that:

Under this section a Member or official authorized to frank mail may not allow his frank to be used in any way that would inure to the benefit of persons, firms, or organizations themselves not authorized to send mail matter under the frank.

Complaint #3: Gramm used public monies to fund five-day vacation, with minimal work.

In an article titled "Business interspersed with pleasure on Texas trip," Richard Whittle documents Senator Gramm's five day taxpayer-paid trip to Texas in December, 1989. Whittle writes:

Sen. Phil Gramm took his wife and two sons hunting on a friend's south Texas ranch, picked up some friends two days later and went to a college bowl game in El Paso....During the trip, documents and interviews show, Mr. Gramm cut a ribbon at a plastics factory in San Benito and viewed some crop damage near Harlingen. With Dr. Red Duke, the Houston physician and television personality, the senator also held news conferences at four airports between Kerrville and El Paso.

These events -- Mr. Gramm's justification for billing his expenses to the Senate -- consumed four hours and 35 minutes of the five day journey....

The five-day period during which Senator Gramm billed $9,000 to the taxpayers included three weekday work days (Wednesday, December 27-Friday, December 29, 1989). It is reasonable to expect that if a Senator bills the taxpayers for travel expenses, that senator ought to at least work an average of an 8-hour work day for the work days of the trip. So, in this case, it is reasonable to expect Senator Gramm to work 24 hours during his five day trip, or an average of 4 4/5 hours per day. During Senator Gramm's December 27-31, 1989 trip, Gramm only worked 4 hours and 35 minutes during the entire trip -- less than one-fifth of the 8-hours-per-work-day standard.

Senator Gramm's trip violates federal law by expending appropriated funds for a personal use. 31 U.S.C. 1301(a) states that:

Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law.

Concerning false claims for federal reimbursement of expenses, 31 U.S.C. 3729(a) states that:

Any person who knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government...a false or fraudulent claim for payment... is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000...

I have attached a copy of the Dallas Morning News series of articles as a "Statement of the Facts" as I understand them.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Gary Ruskin

Organizing Director