Four House Democrats who accepted cash from South Korean lobbyist Tongsun Park were charged yesterday with breaking ethics rules, according to informed sources.
Members of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct voted to start disciplinary proceedings against Rep. John J. McFall, Edward Roybal and Charles H. Wilson, all California Democrats, and Edward J. Patten (D-N.J.), the sources said.
In addition, the committee voted to refer perjury charges against former representative John J. Rarick (D-La.) and Nick Galifianakis (D-N.C.) to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, the sources added.
The actions after the 18-month House investigation of South Korean influence buying amount to an indictment. Those charged will get to answer the charges in public hearings before any penalties are voted.
Other current house members who accepted cash or gifts from Park - including Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) and Majority Whip John Brademas (D-Ind.) - were cleared of misconduct by committee vote, sources said.
Penalties for those charged could range from reprimand to expulsion. But the most serious sanction is considered unlikely because the cases were considered marginal, even by committee investigators.
The charges are the first the committee has filed against colleagues since Rep. Robert L. F. Sikes (D-Fla.) was reprimanded for financial conflicts of interests in 1976. The full House must approve any disciplinary action the committee recommends.
A formal committee announcement of the action is set for this morning. But sources said yesterday that the charges against the four sitting members involve the following:
McFall was charged with failing to properly report $4,000 in cash he received from Park in 1972 and 1974. The former majority whip has acknowledged accepting the money. He said he put it in a secret office account.
Roybal was accused of having lied in sworn testimony before the committee when he said he received no money from Park. Park testified he gave Roybal $1,000 in cash in 1974, immediately after being introduced to him by Rep. Otto E. Passman.
Passman, since defeated in his reelection bid, has been indicted on criminal charges of taking more than $200,000 in cash from Park.
Wilson was accused of having lied on an unsworn questionnaire about moeny he received from Park. Park testified that he gave Wilson $1,000 in cash in 1975 as a wedding present. The gift originally was made in Korean currency, Park said, but was converted to dollars at Wilson's request.
Patten was charged with technical violations of campaign laws for directing contributions from Park to a local Democratic committee in New Jersey in 1975 and 1976. Since 1975 it has been illegal for federal officials to accept contributions from foreign nationals.
Patten issued a denial last night after being informed of the charges by the committee. In a statement, he said he will appeal the committee's action and said that his former administrative assistant, Stephen Callas has accepted responsibility for failing to tell the New Jersey political fund that Park was the source of the twin $500 contributions.
Rarick and Galifianakis were accused of lying in sworn depositions about money they received from Park, sources said. Park testified he gave Rarick $1,000 in cash in 1974, and Galifianakis $10,000 in cash during his unsuccessful Senate race in 1972.
None of the others charged could be reached immediately for comment.
All six had been named by Park during public committee hearings in April where the former Washington businessman spelled out more than $850,000 in payments he allegedly made to about 30 House members between 1970 and 1976.
A parallel Justice Department investigation charged Park with conspiracy and bribery for acting as South Korean Government agent in lobbying Congress to ensure continued U.S. foreign aid to the Seoul regime of President Park Chung Hee.
Former representative Richard T. Hanna (D-Calif.) pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge of having accepted more than $200,000 from Park for helping him on Capitol Hill.
Leon Jaworski, special counsel to the House Committee, has contended that former Korean ambassador Kim Dong Jo is even more important a witness than Park in the influence-buying investigation.
Kim is suspected of having made or directed payments to as many as 10 current House members. But the Korean government - citing diplomatic immunity - has balked at making him available to testify.
The House voted to cut off economic aid to the Koreans in retailation last month, and Kim resigned from his post as a foreign affairs adviser to President Park in the after-math. But there has been no sign since that Kim will cooperate, so it is possible yesterday's proposed disciplinary action will be the first and last the committee takes.