Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.) predicted yesterday that a federal investigation into allegations that he used cocaine will be resolved in his favor.
"I'm confident that it's going to be resolved in my favor, after a lot of money and a lot of tears and a lot of sleepless nights," the six-term congressman told United Press International. He said he had heard of the allegations "some time ago" but "paid absolutely no attention to them" until informed by NBC that they would be broadcast.
The allegation that Wilson had used cocaine on several occasions was made to a federal grand jury investigating drug use on Capitol Hill. Sources familiar with the inquiry said yesterday that the allegation against Wilson was not made by a House staff aide, as The Washington Post reported yesterday, but by another, unnamed person who is under investigation by the grand jury.
Elaine Lang, Wilson's press aide, said yesterday an NBC News broadcast incorrectly quoted Wilson Thursday night as saying he had been to parties where cocaine had been used, but had not used it himself. Lang said Wilson merely said "anyone who goes to a party these days can't be sure that someone is not using it [cocaine]."
NBC vice president and Washington bureau chief Bob McFarland said yesterday that "NBC stands behind what Brian [Ross] reported 100 percent." He said Wilson declined to respond yesterday to the network's efforts to discuss the matter with him.
In another development stemming from the federal investigation into allegations of possible drug use on Capitol Hill, Drug Enforcement Administration agents have arrested a Senate staff aide on charges of distributing marijuana.
The aide, Larry H. Smith, 36, of the 300 block of 10th Street SE, is the office manager of the Senate Photographic Studio, DEA officials said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Bernstein told U.S. Magistrate Jean F. Dwyer in a bond hearing yesterday that Smith was also "under investigation for sexual exploitation of children . . . and for supplying drugs to minors." Dwyer released Smith on $5,000 bond.
Smith's lawyer, David Ontell, declined to comment on the case yesterday.
According to documents filed in court yesterday, Smith was arrested in a downtown hotel after giving a small amount of marijuana to an undercover DEA agent. In the documents, the agents said they seized a small quantity of suspected drugs, drug paraphernalia and 185 photographs in a raid on Smith's house after the arrest early yesterday morning.
Senate Sergeant at Arms Howard Leibengood, who oversees the photo studio, said in an interview yesterday that he had suspended Smith with pay yesterday after having learned of the arrest. Smith has worked in the photo studio for several years.
Leibengood said he has "been aware of the investigation [into Smith] and the Senate leadership has been aware of the investigation and has been cooperating with the investigation." Leibengood declined to say how the Senate leadership had cooperated with the investigation.