Breaking months of partisan deadlock over how severely to punish [Alan Cranston] for his dealings with former savings and loan executive Charles H. Keating Jr., the ethics panel voted late Tuesday to reprimand Cranston rather than propose a more severe censure by the full Senate.
With nearly all 100 senators sitting solemnly around him as the proceedings began, committee Chairman Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) told how Cranston repeatedly intervened on Keating's behalf with federal regulators at a time when Keating was contributing nearly $1 million to the senator's campaigns and causes. At the time, Keating was complaining that thrift regulators were cracking down unfairly on his California-based Lincoln Savings and Loan.
Common Cause, the public interest lobbying group that brought the initial charges against the Keating Five, said the ethics committee had "upheld basic standards of ethics for U.S. senators" in its decision on Cranston. But the group, in a statement by its president, Fred Wertheimer, said it believed that the Senate should have voted on the Cranston case.
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