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BILL LEISSNER The Jim Wright Club Democrats Pooh-pooh the Charges Against the Speaker BY DAVE DENISON Austin IF HOUSE SPEAKER Jim Wright needs character witnesses in the upcoming Congressional investigation into his ethical standards, he’ll find no shortage of supporters in his own state. In the week that the House ethics committee agreed to look at six specific questions raised about Wright, leading Democrats here showed no signs of losing faith in the Fort Worth Democrat. “I’ve known Jim Wright a long time and he is not a dishonest person,” said state Senator Hugh Parmer, a progressive Democrat from Fort Worth. Parmer worked as an intern in Wright’s office more than two decades ago and has remained a close political ally. “By nature, he is not a dishonest person. He is not a sleazy person. He is an honest, hardworking public servant,” Parmer said of Wright. Wright has become the target of intense media scrutiny as well as the subject of the first Congressional ethics investigation into a House Speaker in this century. Several long-standing charges about Wright’s personal and business dealings have been joined together with new questions about his attempt to hold up a savings and loan recapitalization bill while pressuring federal regulators to proceed more slowly in dealing with insolvent Texas thrifts, and about his arrangements in publishing a book of his speeches and reflections. When the Washington Post reported June 7 that Wright assigned an aide to work on the book which netted the Speaker a tidy profit while on government time, the calls for an investigation reached critical mass. Wright’s thin volume, Reflections of a Public Man, has drawn the most attention because of the unusually high royalty agreement he negotiated with his longtime friend and associate, Fort Worth printer William Carlos Moore. Wright received 55 percent of the $5.95 cover price for each book. Moore has also received thousands of dollars from Wright’s campaign committee for campaign printing expenses. Concerns have been raised that, with money going to Moore from the campaign, and then back to Wright’s private accounts because of the book royalties, the arrangement might appear to be a way to convert campaign money to private funds. Another allegation is that the books were bought in bulk by lobby groups and others as a way to help Wright make money. One Wright supporter, Fort Worth businessman Gene Payte, \(who New York Times, “I was just trying to make Wright supporter at the Democratic a contribution to Jim’s income.” Another 1,000-book buyer was the Teamsters union, of which Moore was a member. Most Democrats are dismissing the book questions as not ethically significant. “If that’s all they can find on Jim Wright, I’m telling you he’s closer to being a saint than to being anything else,” said Bernard Rapoport, the Waco insuranceman. Rapoport, who is a longtime financial supporter of Wright \(as well as of the called the charges against Wright “arcane and esoteric.” Rapoport said he bought 1,000 copies of Wright’s book as part of his practice of sending books yearly to a list of 2,000 friends. Another staunch defender of Wright, Attorney General Jim Mattox, said the Speaker’s royalty arrangements are not out of line. Mattox, who served three terms in Congress, said book royalties are specifically exempted from Congressional limits on outside income. Nor did Mattox view the issue of Wright’s staff member working on the book as a weighty matter. The Attorney General expressed confidence that the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth from Wright’s staff. “Very few of those staff members work less than 50 hours a week,” Mattox said, adding, “Now, I have read this book. And it clearly does state convention. set out a number of important views of Jim Wright.” With few exceptions, . Democrats are dismissing the Wright flap as a Republican orchestrated campaign to discredit Wright. Senator Parmer asked why the charges, some of which date back to news reports several years ago, are just now fallingtogether. “It looks to me like an organized public relations campaign directed at damaging the Speaker,” Parmer said. In his view, the national media are “being successfully used by Republican partisans.” State Supreme Court Justice Oscar Mauzy, a liberal Dallas Democrat \(who worked as a clerk for Wright in the Texas Legislature in hatchet job by one segment in Congress.” Labor lobbyist Dee Simpson, who dismisses the charges against Wright as “not very significant,” said of the hubbub “Its value is it makes good politics for the Republicans.” Both Mauzy and Simpson singled out Common Cause, the citizens’ lobby, as playing a dubious role in the Wright investigation. It was a letter by Common Cause asking the House ethics committee for an investigation that took the issue beyond the sniping of a few zealous House Republicans, led by Georgia Rep. Newt 6 JULY 1, 1988