For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

Tuesday, February 21, 1995 Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Investigate Possible Gramm Violation of Criminal Law, Nader Says to Ethics Committee

Following a statement by Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) implying that he solicits campaign contributions from his Senate office -- in violation of criminal law -- Ralph Nader and the Congressional Accountability Project sent an ethics complaint to the Senate Ethics Committee calling for an investigation of Senator Gramm's campaign fundraising activities. It is a crime to solicit campaign contributions while in a federal government office.

Senator Gramm's potentially incriminating statement was printed in the Wall Street Journal on February 17, 1995.

"Senator Gramm continues his pattern of lawlessness," Nader said. "He has little respect for the law."

"We taxpayers don't pay Senator Gramm's lavish $133,600 salary plus benefits and perks so that he can sit in his plush Senate office and raise money from the fat cats and the favor-seekers," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project.

John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal wrote on February 17, 1995 that:

The Gramm money machine is a flush example of fund raising for the electoral fast lane....The senator himself figures he spends two hours a day dialing for cash from his Washington home, his car and his mobile phone; he says he can even place calls from his Senate office...."I do it wherever I am," he says. "I can use a credit card....As long as I pay for the calls, I can make calls wherever I want to call."

The implication of this statement is that Senator Gramm solicits campaign contributions from his Congressional office. If Senator Gramm has made campaign solicitations from his Congressional office, he is in violation of 18 U.S.C. 607(a):

It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or receive any contribution... in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties...Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Senator Gramm has been embroiled in several other ethics problems:

Gramm's 1984 Senate campaign was fined $30,000 by the Federal Election Commission in 1989 for having accepted illegal corporate campaign contributions, excessive individual campaign contributions, and for other election law violations and irregularities.

Senator Gramm accepted a $117,000 interest-free loan from convicted Dallas S&L owner Jerry Stiles for construction on Gramm's house. But Gramm repaid only $63,433 of the loan. Stiles sought and received Gramm's assistance in dealing with federal S&L regulators. Last year, Stiles was convicted of 11 counts of conspiracy, bank bribery, misapplication of bank funds, and other charges. The Senate Ethics Committee took no disciplinary action following the Common Cause call for investigation of Senator Gramm's dealings with Stiles.

Richard Whittle of The Dallas Morning News reported in 1993, based on internal campaign documents, that Senator Gramm had systematically used official staff and resources to bolster his 1990 Senate campaign, abused the franking privilege, and received official reimbursement for a vacation with little work. Ralph Nader and the Congressional Accountability Project filed an ethics complaint against Senator Gramm last April regarding these allegations. The Senate Ethics Committee took no action following this ethics complaint.