Interstate Commerce Commission Chairman A. Daniel O'Neal and several ICC staff members have been charged with "flagrant and clear-cut violations" of ICC conduct rules by an employee who was fired for his alleged misconduct.
The dismissed employee, deputy congressional relations officer Richard Kyle, accused O'Neal, in an affidavit to the ICC, of releasing a "highly confidential" ICC investigative report on a company under investigation.
Kyle said O'Neal also agreed to hire a friend of a congressman in exchange for obtaining congressional support for the ICC budget.
In the affidavit, obtained by The Washington Post, Kyle also alleges that Robert Rebein, managing director of the ICC at the time, accepted tickets for a flight from the United States to Frankfurt for himself and his wife from a trucking company "under the legal authority of the ICC."
"Including entertainment and lodging while in Germany, the trip must be valued in the thousands of dollars," Kyle said. He added that "the commission [took] extraordinary measures . . . to dissuade a member of Congress from making Mr. Rebein's indiscretion a matter of public record . . . "
The ICC released a statement last night denying all of Kyle's allegations.
Kyle's dismissal from the ICC followed an internal investigation that revealed he had taken gifts and accepted entertainment from a regulated trucking firm, and that he had lied to ICC internal investigators.
Kyle's affidavit is an apparent attempt to demonstrate that other ICC officials were guilty of more serious conduct violations than he was and that they were not punished, much less fired.
Kyle and his former superior, Robert Oswald, who has also been dismissed, are central figures in a Justice Department investigation of alleged influence peddling and orgainized crime influence at ICC.
The ICC, in its charges against Kyle, which were also obtained by The Post, claims that he "accepted gifts, food, drink, lodging and travel" from officials of Pulaski Highway Express, a Tennessee trucking firm, including three suits, airling tickets, hotel rooms, and visits from two Tennessee women whose airfare was paid by Pulaski officials.
In his response, Kyle said he was a personal friend of Pulaski's secretary-treasurer, Wiley W. Horn, and in no way would or could influence regulatory decisions involving Horn's firm. He also denied taking many of the gifts, and claims that while he did entertain two female visitors from Tennessee, on separate occasions, he was unaware that Horn had paid their way to Washington, and thought he was merely doing Horn a favor by showing his friends around Washington.
But the bulk of Kyle's response involving his countercharges against several ICC officials. Besides those named above, Kyle also said:
Senior field employee Raymond Atherton accepted a loan "for more than a thousand dollars" from a lending institution "on the strength of a co-undertaking by a regulated carrier who was directly undrer Mr. Atherton's regulatory authority." Kyle claims that rather than discipline Atherton, the ICC promoted him to Washington, where he now is chief of the household goods branch.
Louis Teeple of the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement accepted "lavish entertainment from the J.H. Rose Co. of Texas in return for their promise to assist the carrier's attempt to obtain an expanded operating authority."
Pittsburgh ICC official John England accepted "the sum of $1,200 from a regulated carrier in the form of a gift certificate and cash." Kyle said England received "only a letter of reprimand from O'Neal for his indiscretion."
ICC Managing Director Pierce Quinlan took a "girlfriend" to a four day regional conference at Hot Springs, Va. Kyle claims the ICC paid the woman's expenses.
In the cases mentioned earlier, Kyle accused O'Neal of leaking a confidential investigative report to a congressional aide who wanted it for Tom Kole, then president of the now-defunct Railway Express Agency. The report involved REA.
The other charge involving O'Neal claims he and other commissioners hired Patricia Breslin as a favor to a congressman in order to help the ICC budget appropriation through Congress.
In announcing that Kyle was officially fired yesterday - an action he plans to appeal to the Civil Service Commission - the ICC also released an investigative report by Peter Shannon, director of its bureau of enforcement.
Shannon's report rebutted most of Kyle's assertions, claiming they had already been investigated by the ICC and found to be baseless.
In an interview, Teeple said the charges that he took lavish gifts from J.H. Rose were false. "The only things I ever got from Rose is a smile and a penknife," he said.
Quinlan said the accusations against him "are just pure bunk." Kyle's attorney, Miles Ambrose, however, pointed out that Quinlan was the ICC official who ultimately decided to fire Kyle.
The company involved in the charges against Kyle, Pulaski Highway Express, and the two company employes who made statements to the ICC concerning Kyle's activities, have all been granted immunity by the Justice Department and the ICC in their investigation of the alleged influence peddling at the agency.