At Congressional Country Club, the plush Potomac haven where the wealthy and powerful of Washington go to relax, things just haven't been very relaxed of late.
The club's general manager and its officers are constantly in conference talking to attorneys about the results of the latest court action involving the club and ploting strategy for court sessions to come.
It wasn't enough that the Maryland attorney general's office had been sparring with the country club for nearly a year, trying to find out whether its admissions pratices discriminated against minority groups.
On top of that, a 16-year member of congressional has been filling court papers that allege unfair treatment of employees, demand to see the club's financial records, and yesterday put on the public record a disturbing list of allegations about gambling kickbacks, and poor financial management at the club.
George Koch, a lawyer and the president of the Grocery Manufacturers of America started his personal crusade against his own country club earlier this year after some busboys waiters and waitresses at the club complained that of wages.
When Congressional's board of governors refused Koch's request to see the club's financial records to check these charges, Koch headed for the Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Since his demand to see the records was first filed there, the maze of allegations and rumours, charges and countercharges involved in the case has become increasingly more complex.
Yesterday, Kock filed a new legal demand to see the records and a 19-page affidavit supporting the demand, saying that "information has been brought to my attention," among other things, that some club employees were getting kickbacks from the club's silverware supplier and others were conducting a gambling operation out of the men's grill.
Club president Richard Kline said yesterday that a number of Koch's allegations already have been formally reviewed by a committee of club members and "no impropriety was found." Without being specific, however, he added that some of the allegations are new and the club "is in the process of forming a special committee and go over the old ones."
However, Kline added. "We are not aware at this juncture that any (allegation) is valid as such."
Valid or not, they have made most club officers very touchy. Kline was the only one of the four top officers to comment yesterday: the others did not return repeated telephone calls from reporters.
Several members of the 15-man board of governors of the club hung up on reporters asking for information, and few would talk about the specifics.
One who did, briefly, was physician Carl Jonas. "I think this whole thing is a tempest in a teapot." he said. "I don't think any improprieties are being tolerated . . . The Board of governors is well motivated and conscientious."
Another board member, James Gibbons, said that the allegations about kickbacks from the unnamed silverware dealer had been investigated and resolved two years ago. "There was absolutely no knowledge that there were any kickbacks," Gibbons said.
Joachim Saal, the club's general manager whom Koch charged in his affidavit with "using club personnel to perform extensive repair projects and other services at his personal residence and for his personal benefit . . . without any reimbursement - had no comment yesterday and refused to listen to what Koch's affidavit said.
But board member Gibbons said yesterday that Saal has told the board that any work club employees did at the club.
Why is Koch bothering with this crusade? He could not be reached on a business trip yesterday. But his attorney, Joseph J. D'Erasmo, said that "(Koch) has been one of the most active users of the club's facilities . . . He sees serious problems there and if they won't correct them themselves, he's going to try to."
The effect of all this on the club's 1,000 regular members - who in the past have included such eminent figures as former President Ford and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White - is unclear.
For all the board members' sensitivity, most club members have little knowledge of the skrimishes over Koch's legal actions, attorney D'Erasmo said. "We don't think the members know what's going on," he said.
He added that Koch "has had some support (from other members) - but it hasn't been overwhelming."
Koch has received more important support, however, from County Circuit Court Judge John J. Mitchell. Last February, Mitchell granted an injunction that ordered club official to let Koch see the club's financial records. Judge Mitchell has not attempted to enforce the order, and the club has not attempted to comply. It filed its answer to Koch's original demand just yesterday.
In the meantime, Mitchell, in response to another request from Koch, has seized three years worth of the club's financial records. In his request, Koch had said he feared the records might be tampered with.
These records - three filing cabinets full - have been sitting in the courts house in Rockville for two weeks now, pending the outcome of the Koch vs. Congressional Country Club, Inc., fight.
According to legal papers filed on behalf of the club yesterday, Koch doesn't have "an absolute right to inspect the books and accounts of the club," and thus the club is within its rights in denying them to him.
In the meantime, Koch's charges are continuing to trouble his club's management. Aside from the more explosive allegations of kickbacks, Kock also questions whether the club finagles its wine bottles, serving cheap wines from the bottles with expensive labels.
Another question Kock raises is why the club's profit from the 1976 Proffessional Golfers' Association's championship tournament was $150.000 when gross revenues totaled nearly $1.8 million? And what, he asks in his affidavit, happened to the 15 color television sets the club purchased so its members and guests could view the tournment inside the clubhouse?
In a interview last night, club president Kline said that Kock had known about the club's move to form a commission of members to investigate his charges. " "But he preferred to go to a public forum," Kline said.