The State Ethics Committee has cleared Sen. Mark O. Hatfield (R-Ore.) of any wrongdoing in connection with a $420,000 loan he received from an Oregan bank.
A Cox newspaper article published in The Washington Post July 3 said that after Hatfield and his wife received the loan, Hatfield's office asked the comptroller of the currency to delay a decision on whether the bank could continue to sell computer microfilm services.
The loan was made for the purchase of an apartment-home. The Cox story said that the bank's request for Hatfield's office to intervene with the comptroller of the currency was made through Hatfield's administrative assistant, Gerald Frank, who was also a director of the bank, the U.S. National Bank of Oregon in Portland.
According to the story, Frank relayed the bank request to another aide in the office without instructions, and eventually a letter went out to the comptroller asking for a delay on the microfilm decision.Although the letter was ostensibly signed by Hatfield, an office aide said he had actually signed Hatfield's name to it as is routine in certain types of correspondence.
Hatfield has said there was no relation between the loan and the request and that his office had merely made a routine request for a constituent.
The Ethics Committee, in a unanimous decision, told Hatfield in a letter dated Aug. 4 that it had received no complaint against him and therefore wouldn't conduct a formal investigation.
But it noted that Hatfield had furnished materials to the committee to refute the implication of wrongdoing, and said, "On the basis of the materials presented to the committee, the (Senate) code of conduct has not been violated in this matter." The letter was signed by Chairman Adlai E. Stevenson (D-Ill.) and senior Republican Harrison Schmitt (N.M.).
Hatfield said the reporter who had written the initial article had taken it to the Ethics Committee and requested it be investigated and had made "requests with at least two other government agencies in a futile attempt to dig up some indication of wrong doing by my office."
When he was in formed that the Ethics Committee had been given the article, he said, he furnished it with documents of the loan transaction and other materials "that refuted the story and all the innuendoes."
The committee subsequently sent Hatfield the letter declaring that the code hadn't been violated.