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Frequent Flier Phil Gramm PHIL GRAMM is not down yet, nor is he out. And although Dan Quayle, in an attempt at auto-resurrection via a New York Times front page interview, counted Gramm and Bush’s Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander as the strongest contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 \(perhaps because Quayle would prefer them as opponents to, New Republic ignored Gramm in a recent cover featuring stories on “The GOP’s Latest Darlings.” But Phil Gramm might finally be in trouble. His latest list of ethical transgressions, presented to the somnambulistic Senate Ethics Committee by the Washington office of Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen, is the sort of package that would cost a Gramm opponent a small fortune if it were compiled as opposition research by a political consultant. Yet it is all there and although some political consultants I know would be proud to have their names affixed to it, it is, according to Public Citizen’s organizing director Gary Ruskin, based on “the fine journalistic. work Richard Whittle of the Dallas Morning News”whose editorial board is usually in agreement with Senator Gramm’s public policy agenda, if not his idea of public ethics. Another sign of Gramm’s descent is the tone of recent editorials published in the Austin AmericanStatesman, the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times, which suggests that the revulsion editorial board members feel toward Gramm might be reaching a critical Public Citizen’s first complaint \(actually, it was filed by Public Citizen’s Condirectly from a story published in the Morning News last July, which described how Gramm had converted his Senate staff into a campaign staff. The Morning News series on Gramm was based on copies of internal staff memos, one of which was quoted extensively in a letter from Ruskin to Sen. Richard Bryan, the Nevada Democrat who is chair of the Ethics Committee. “…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.” Twenty members of Gramm’s paid staff of 27 in Texas were assigned campaign duties “and used exclusively or primarily to create, organize, publicize and analyze the results of media events the senator staged during his trips to the state,” according to Morning News reports, which were informed by a Gramm aide who worked in the Senator’s Dallas office for five months in 1988 and 1989, before leaving in disillusionment with the way the staff was used. The 35 aides employed in Gramm’s Washington office, the Morning News reported, also assisted with the Senator’s travel schedule. Gramm’s frequent flying in Texas is also an important component of both the Morning News reporting and the Public Citizen complaint to the ethics committee. In one year Gramm must have logged more air miles than John Glenn compiled in a career as a NASA space cadet. And while Gramm was flying, he expanded the meaning of public-funded election campaigns, billing taxpayers $117,992 for air travel and daily expenses during 1989the year he defeated underfunded Democratic State Senator Hugh Parmer. The amount of public money Gramm spent while his Senate staff was “campaign oriented” was $51,000 more than he spent in any other year between 1986 and 1993 and included only his own private and charter air and per diem expenses. His staff’s bills were not included. In a year and two days, Gramm made 630 stops in Texas. According to the documents leaked to the Morning News, the Senator was invited to 70 of the events and 560 were created by his staff. Gramm’s combined 1989-90 reimbursement for home-state travel, as calculated by the Morning News, was $166,707, far more than was spent by any other senators involved in election campaigns at that time. Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson came in a feeble second to Gramm, spending only $55,678, and beyond the top 10 spenders, reimbursements drop precipitously, from No. 11, Oklahoma Democrat David Boren who spent $29,845, down to New Jersey Democrat Bill Bradley, who trailed the pack of 30, spending only $1,129. “There are some violations of federal statutes,” Public Citizen’s Ruskin said in a telephone interview. One such violation is cited in Ruskin’s letter to Ethics Committee Chair Bryan: Gramm’s “intensive use” of Senate resources for “campaign-oriented” activities is a clear violation of Senate rules and federal law, Ruskin writes, citing the number and language of a particular statute. ASECOND PUBLIC CITIZEN complaint charges Gramm with illegal use of his frank, the privilege by which members of Congress send their mail at no cost is a common complaint, particularly when members of Congress use constituent newsletters as campaign devices during the electoral cycle \(which in the House never volunteers who used them to mail video newsclips of Gramm visiting constituents, Texas’ senior Senator defines a separate class in this category, too. “The degree to which this organization is able to inform this senator of what is on local television is quite amazing,” Stephen Hess, a former Eisenhower speechwriter and author of The Ultimate Insiders: U.S. Senators in the National Media, told the Morning News. “The typical Senate office doesn’t know that.” Gramm’s office did knowby assigning three “pathfinders,” taping volunteers, to each television market not covered by a regional Senate office. Pathfinders were provided with franked envelopes to mail videocassettes back to Gramm’s office, a violation of federal law, according to the Accountability Project. Ethics Committee staff director Victor Baird, who early in April provided Gramm with an inoculation letter, in effect clearing him of charges by responding to an ethics query from the Senator’s office, found no current problem with the frank. “You have indicated that this practice has not been followed by your office in several years,” Baird wrote, in a letter released on the same day Ralph Nader held a press conference to announce that his organization was filing ethics complaints against Gramm. Yet according to an April 5, 1994, story in the Morning News, Gramm had defended his unusual use of the frank as recently as last summer: “In a June 1993 interview, Mr. Gramm said his use of franked mail was `totally and absolutely appropriate,’ and we have every intention to continue doing it.” And one Gramm volunteer told the Morning News on May 13 of last year that she had received “some envelopes and a blank tape in the mail today.” THE GOVERNMENT Accountability THE third complaint involves a vacation the Nader group claims the Senator took at taxpayer expense. Quoting the 4 MAY 6, 1994 *Y. 41.110 An