House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) apologized to the House yesterday for remarks he made last week about freshman Rep. Bruce F. Caputo (R-N.Y.).
During a Feb. 14 interview for a national syndicated television program, O'Neill had charged Caputo, who serves on the House committee investigating the Korean influence-buying scandal, with keeping two employees on his staff to check on the sex life of his colleagues." O'Neill had also accused Caputo of leaking to the press allegations by Suzi Park Thomson that Tongsun Park, the South Korean businessman central the scandal had free access to O'Neill's office.
In an unusual one-minute speech to the House. O'Neill said yesterday, "On reflection, I feel that I should not have uttered the personal remarks which I made last week in an interview relating to a colleague in the House.
"When I am interviewed as Speaker I have an official responsibility to be above the battle. I should not have challenged his motives, and I am sure it was unwise to have made references to conduct on his part where I am unwilling to substantiate or corroborate those charges," O'Neill said.
While O'Neill's carefully worded statement expressed his regret to the House as a whole, it was not necessarily a personal apology to Caputo.
In fact, O'Neill's statement continued, "I have been both angered and hurt by what I consider to be unfounded and unfair charges that I have violated laws of the United States and the Constitution of the United States: but when we are in public life we have to be thickskinned, and I should not have let those personal attacks motivate me to respond in kind."