The Post's editorial "The St Germain Embarrassment" {Aug. 9} raises a number of issues that warrant response.

The Post asked, "should a criminal investigation prevent the ethics committee from looking for violations of House rules, any more than the independent counsel's investigation prevented the Iran-contra committee from holding hearings?"

First, there is a distinction between the ethics committee's longstanding policy of deferring action during the pendency of a Justice Department investigation and the congressional select committees' work simultaneous with the independent counsel's Iran-contra investigation. In the former situation, the ethics committee concerns itself with specific allegations regarding a specific individual. By contrast, in the Iran-contra situation, both the select committees and the independent counsel undertook nonfocused investigations designed to determine whether there was improper activity by any individual. Moreover, the ethics committee does not abandon concern in statutory matters -- rather, as it noted in the 94th Congress, the committee "feels it normally should not undertake duplicative investigations pending judicial resolution of such cases."

Second, the policy of deferral itself is designed to afford maximum due process to an individual under investigation. Given the differing standards of proof -- beyond a reasonable doubt (the criminal standard) as opposed to a preponderance of the evidence (the committee's standard) -- this policy avoids placing an individual in the situation of having to defend in two forums simultaneously.

Next, as to the substance of the recent allegations of misconduct by Rep. Fernand St Germain that The Post now describes as "evidence," the best that can be said of the relevant Wall Street Journal article is that what has been asserted simply comes down to the reporting of rumor of misconduct -- no firsthand statements or specific facts have been presented. Rumor -- unverified information of uncertain or unknown origin -- is not sufficient to trigger an ethics committee review. Thus, The Post's description notwithstanding, no true "evidence" -- something which furnishes proof -- has been offered either by The Wall Street Journal or by The Post regarding the accuracy of the recent allegations. The ethics committee unanimously decided, and the House overwhelmingly agreed, not to pursue rumors as a method of operation.

Finally, the committee's deferral on this or any other matter currently under Justice Department scrutiny does not preclude it from later investigating the matter. Consequently, if, based on the committee's ongoing monitoring activities, it becomes appropriate to initiate a new investigation, such action will be taken. That The Post disagrees with the ethics committee's recent report recommending no formal sanction hardly justifies the editorial's "tiptoe" characterization.

A thorough and comprehensive investigation was undertaken, The Post's disagreement with the disposition notwithstanding.

JULIAN C. DIXON U.S. Representative (D-Calif.) Chairman, Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Washington