An attorney for the House committee investingating Korean influence buying in Congress began negotiations with the state of Louislana yesterday over the committee's demand to see the personal papers of former Rep. Otto Passman (D-La).
According to Benjamin Peters, an assistant state attorney general in Monroe, the two sides seemed likely to agree on procedures to implement the committee's subpoena of the papers.
The subpoena was served Wednesday at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe,where Passman's papers are stored. The state government is involved because the university is run by the state.
Passman, who lost his House seat last year after 30 years in Congress, was a fairly close associate of Tong-sun Park, the Korean socialite and businessman who has been indicted for his role in the influence buying effort.
A week ago the House committee subpoenaed the records of former House Speaker Carl Albert (D-Okla.). In an interview yesterday with the Tulsa Tribune, Albert said the committee "can't do anything to me because I'm not a member" of Congress.
But the chief counsel for the house committee, John W. Nields Jr., suggested yesterday that the committee might have some jurisdiction over former members.
"It's an open question," Nields said. "I'd put it this way) it is settled that we have jurisdicition over current members: our jurisdiction to discipline former members is not settled."
It is not clear what the committee could do to a former member. Statutes permit revoking a federal pension for certain offenses, but accepting illegal cash or gifts is not one of them. Committee sources said Congress might be able to take away some other privileges, such as the office allowance provided former speakers.
On Monday investigators for the House International Organizations subcommittee, which is pursuing a separate probe of covert Korean operations in the United States, will leave for an 18-day trip to Korea to follow leads developed in thei investigation.
The subcommittee chairman. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.), said the seven-person investigatin team wants to talk to about 60 people in Korea, most of the U.S. government officials.