For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

Friday, September 8, 1995 Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Nader Calls For Investigation of Senator Gramm's

Possible Violation of Federal Campaign Finance Laws

Ralph Nader called on the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to undertake a full, thorough, and speedy investigation Senator Phil Gramm's possible violation of federal campaign finance laws, suggestions of which are contained in the Ethics Committee report on the Investigation of Senator Robert Packwood.

In the original version of the Packwood diaries is the passage, reportedly referring to Senator Gramm: "[Senator X] again promised $100,000 for Party-building activities. And what was said in that room was enough to convict us all of something. He says, now, of course you know there can't be any legal connection between this money and Senator Packwood, but we know that it will be used for his benefit. [Blank] said, oh, yes. God, there's Elaine and I sitting there. I think that's a felony, I'm not sure. This an area of the law I don't want to know."

"It is up to Senator McConnell and the Ethics Committee to swiftly determine whether Senator Gramm evaded federal campaign finance laws to give a boost to Packwood's campaign," Nader said.

"The deleted Packwood diary passage itself, and the fact that Packwood omitted it in the Cormack transcript, indicates that Packwood was trying to hide the substance of his discussion with Gramm on that evening," said Gary Ruskin, Director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "Was Packwood protecting himself and Gramm?"

The Report of the Senate Ethics Counsel on the Investigation of Senator Robert Packwood contains the statement:

The deleted passage indicates that another Senator*, with Senator Packwood's knowledge, had agreed to direct $100,000 from a Republican party Committee to be used to benefit Senator Packwood's campaign, and had discussed this with Senator Packwood in a meeting with Elaine Franklin and another person. This entry raises questions about the possible violations of campaign finance laws.

Senator Gramm has been embroiled in several ethics disputes during his Congressional career:

A February 17, 1995 Wall Street Journal article quoted Senator Gramm apparently admitting that he solicits campaign contributions by telephone from his Congressional office. It is a crime to solicit campaign contributions in federal government offices. The Congressional Accountability Project and Ralph Nader filed an ethics complaint on February 21, 1995 regarding this matter, and called for an investigation of Senator Gramm's fundraising practices. The Ethics Committee took no action follwoing this complaint.

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 Common Cause's call for investigation of Senator Gramm's dealings with Stiles.

The Dallas Morning News reported in 1993, based on internal Gramm 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. The Congressional Accountability Project and Ralph Nader filed an ethics complaint against Senator Gramm in April 1994 regarding these allegations. The Senate Ethics Committee took no action following this ethics complaint.

The Washington Post reported on February 12, 1995 that the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- which is chaired by Senator Gramm -- apparently evaded a federal law prohibiting the use of "soft money" contributions to influence federal elections. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on February 22, 1995 regarding this matter.


*Reportedly Senator Gramm