Two congressmen, each involved in a different way with the current Korean scandal, announced their retirement yesterday.
In a three-sentence statement, Rep. John J. Flynt (D-Ga.), chairman of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct which is charged with investigating allegations of Korean influence-buying, announced he would not be a candidate for a 14th term.
And Rep. Robert L. Leggett (D-Calif), whose name was linked with Suzi Park Thomson, a Korean-born aide to former House Speaker Carl Albert, announced he is retiring after 16 years.
Flynt, 62, chaired the House ethics panel throughout the often stormy Korean scandal.
His chairmanship was criticized when Flynt disagreed with committee counsel Phillip Lacovara, hired to investigate the Korean scandal. Lacovara quit because of his disagreement with Flynt.
Flynt has also been criticized severely by Common Cause, first for using the ethics committee to tie up a lobby disclosure bill in 1976, then for supporting the reelection of Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Robert Sikes (D-Fla.), whom Flynt's panel had reprimanded for a conflict of interest. Sikes was deposed by House Democrats from his subcommittee chairmanship.
Next in line as chairman of the ethics committee is Rep. Charles E. Bennett (D-Fla.), a man who wanted to chair the House ethics committee when it was first formed, but was pushed further down on the committee because he was considered too righteous by some.
Early stories about the Korean scandal said Leggett had close ties to Suzi Park Thomson, the Korean-born aide to Albert. Thomson gave frequent parties at which Leggett was alleged to have met members of the Korean CIA. The Justice Department was reported to be investigating allegations that Leggett received money from the Koreans.
In another story, Leggett later admitted to The Washington Post that he had bought a house for his mistress by whom he had two children.
Leggett, 51, in a retirement statement, cited "unfortunate blurring of the issues that appear to be developing where the public and media seem concerned, even yet with many items, including gossip, ignoring the major problems separating the two great parties."
Leggett and Flynt bring to 35 the number of House retirees so far this session.