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Hyde House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde. (Reuters)

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  • Watchdog Group Urges Probe of Hyde

    By Juliet Eilperin
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, October 27, 1998; Page A6

    A public watchdog group asked the House ethics committee yesterday to probe whether House Judiciary Committee Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) violated the House gift rule by receiving free services from a private investigator, Ernie Rizzo.

    Citing reports in the Chicago Tribune and Roll Call newspaper, Congressional Accountability Project Director Gary Ruskin questioned Hyde's involvement in Rizzo's investigation of Tim Anderson, a critic of Hyde's role in the failure of Clyde Federal Savings and Loan. Hyde served on Clyde's board of directors between 1981 and 1984, and has denied responsibility for its collapse, which cost taxpayers $67 million.

    Hyde acknowledged in an Oct. 18 Tribune article that he was kept apprised of the investigation, in which Rizzo posed as a television producer to obtain documents from Anderson. But he denied hiring the detective, who he said was hired by "a mutual friend" who "thought he was helping me." Hyde said he did not recall the friend's name.

    Rizzo told Roll Call that he copied the documents and gave them to an unidentified lawyer for Hyde, adding that he was paid with a cashier's check sent by mail. He did not identify the amount of the check, but estimated that he would usually charge $10,000 for a similar job.

    Ruskin said the detective services were "no different from someone paying a portion of Chairman Hyde's legal fees. However, the allowable limit for contributions to legal defense funds is $5,000 in a single year from any individual or organization."

    While some of Hyde's fellow directors paid to settle a lawsuit with the Resolution Trust Corporation over Clyde's failure, he refused to participate in the settlement.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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