Members of a House investigating committee voted yesterday to recommend that the full House discipline Reps. Edward R. Roybal and Charles H. Wilson, both California Democrats, for their involvement in the South Korean influence-buying scandal.
By a unanimous vote, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct found that Roybal should be "censured" because he converted to his own use and then lied about a cash contribution he received in 1974 from Tongsun Park, who has been accused of being a South Korean agent.
Early last night the committee voted 8 to 1, with one member voting present, to recommend that Wilson be "reprimanded" - a lesser penalty - for making a false statement about money he took from Park in 1975 as a wedding present.
The censure recommendation against Roybal is the strongest disciplinary acton the committee has ever taken, though, it has little practical effect.
It approved by the full House, Roybal will have to stand before his colleauges and listen to the findings of guilt. But the action will not be affect his voting rights.
If the House votes to reprimand Wilson, findings against him will also be read in the House chamber, but he does not have to bb present.
The last time a House member was censured was in 1921. The committee's most recent disciplinary action was the lesser "reprimand" against Rep. Robert L.F. Sykes (D-Fla.) in 1976 for a conflict of interest.
Roybal said the censure recommendation was "regrettable." He noted he never disputed that he had failed to report the Park donation, and was disappointed, though not surprised, at the other findings.
Wilson said in a statement that read in part, "I'm deeply disappointed that the committee was unwilling to accept the fact which I swear is absolutely true that I had completely forgotten about the wedding present when I responded to the questionaire."
The committee is scheduled to hear final arguments next week on charges against two other members, Reps. John J. McFall (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Patten (D-N.J.).
The committee members also are considering what action to take in response to the unsatisfactory reply they received recently from Kim Dong Jo, the former Korean ambassador to Washington suspected of making or directing payments to several current House membes.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Kim admitted making only one contribution to a member and that had been known previously. One committee source said yesterday his answer was "insulting."
The House passed up a chance to show its displeasure, however, when it voted Tuesday for an agriculture appropriations bill that included $56 million in Food of Peace aid to South Korea. The House cut out those funds earlier this year in anger over Seoul's failure to make Kim available to testify.
Yesterday, after hearing final arguments from staff and defense attorneys and deliberating in closed session for about two hours, Rep. John J. Flynt Jr. (D-Ga.), the committee chairman, announced that Roybal had been found guilty on three of four charges.
By 9-to-0 votes, the committee determined that Roybal failed to report a $1,000 cash contribution Park gave him in 1974, that he converted it to his personal use and that he lied under oath when he first told committee investigators that he had received nothing from Park.
The committee voted 6 to 2, with one member voting present, to clear Roybal of another charge of lying.
In the closing arguments yesterday morning, chief committee counsel John W. Nields Jr. recounted what he said were four different versions Roybal gave when questioned about the money from Park.
"I submit that Congressman Roybal has lied to this committee, lied to this institution, repeatedly, and this most recent version of the fact is also untrue," Nields said.
"It is incredible that a man could not know that he pocketed the largest cash campaigns contribution he had ever received in his life."
In previous testimony Roybal, 62, first denied and then admitted that he received the $1,000 in cash from Park in the office of then-Rep. Otto E. Passman (D-La.). He also testified that he put the money in his campaign account, but later acknowledged that he "could have" converted the cash to his own use.
Richard Hibey, Roybal's attorney, argued that the congressman had made an "honest mistake, and error in judgment. He is not the perjurer he is being painted by the staff."
Wilson, 61, testified earlier that he forgot about the envelope full of cash that Park gave him as a wedding present in South Korea in 1975. He said that when he filled out his questionnaire for the committee, he had been thinking only about gifts meant to influence his congressional work, not one given "as a courtesy at the time of a wedding."
Before its finding against Wilson, the committee amended its complaint to remove a reference that Wilson's false statement to the committee also violated federal criminal law.