Republican Lawmaker Calls For Probe Of House SpeakerANDREW MANGAN , Associated Press
Dec. 16, 1987 3:42 AM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A conservative lawmaker who denounced House Speaker Jim Wright as ''the most unethical speaker of the 20th century'' is calling for a formal investigation into the Democratic leader from Texas.
Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., cited several news articles questioning Wright's activities on behalf of ailing Texas savings and loans, the legitimacy of a book deal he obtained, and his involvement in the development of the Fort Worth stockyards project.
''I think, based on the historical record, he is the most unethical speaker of the 20th century,'' Gingrich said at a news conference Tuesday.
Asked about Gingrich's move, Wright chuckled and recalled words attributed to former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley: ''They've vilified me, they've calumnified me, they've abused me, they've even criticized me.''
''I don't think it really warrants too much of an answer,'' Wright said. ''It's totally without foundation.''
He said he did not believe anyone had suggested he had done anything dishonest, illegal or unethical: ''My total career speaks for itself.''
''Those who know me best - constituents, neighbors, friends ... and colleagues - have repeatedly paid me the very great honor of electing me to positions of the greatest responsibility,'' he said.
Gingrich said more could be learned through a formal investigation.
''This is only stuff found by the printed press with no subpoena powers,'' he said.
The articles appeared in various publications and deal with allegations of questionable activity by the speaker dating back 15 years.
''Only after a painstaking investigation, including access to personal documents and financial records, will it be possible to know what has happened,' Gingrich said in a letter to colleagues. ''That process will require a formal investigation with a professional investigative staff with subpoena powers.''
Among the allegations that have been made against Wright are:
-He contacted the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and asked for special treatment in several Texas thrift cases under investigation by the agency.
-He received 55 percent royalties on a book published by a longtime friend whose printing company worked for Wright's campaign committee. Gingrich claims that the deal amounted to ''laundering'' campaign funds.
-He was involved with a local business partner in the redevelopment of the historic Fort Worth stockyards, a project that received millions of federal dollars.