Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.) one of the most colorful and powerful men in Congress, pleaded innocent yesterday to charges that he traded his clout as an influential House Appropriations subcommittee chairman in exchange for $65,000, bank stock and promise of $100,000 more.
Flood, a 74-year-old, 15-term congressman from the Wilkes-Barre area, was released without bail, but U.S. District Court Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer ordered him to return to court on Oct 30 to set a timetable for the case and begin considering legal motions.
After his brief appearance in Oberdorfer's airy second-floor courtroom. Flood walked briskly to a waiting car and his lawyer said he would have no comment. When he was indicted last week, Flood denied all the charges "totally and unequivocally."
Moments after Flood was driven away, his Republican opponent in the Nov. 7 election, lawyer Robert P. Hudock, staged a press conference outside the courthouse and called for Flood's resignation.
"I think it's an outrage that he would consider running for reelection." Hudock said. "It's about time we have a new standard of ethics."
He criticized Flood for his lack of discussion of the corruption charges in the campaign, saying, "We're in a court of public opinion and he has a duty to discuss the issues, including these charges."
Flood's attorney, Washington lawyer Axel Kleiboemer, asked that Oberdorfer not require Flood to attend various pretrial hearings, but the judge refused, saying, "I think he should be here." Oberdorfer later reminded Flood that he would face up to a five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine for failure to appear in court when ordered to do so.
Kleiboemer also protested to the judge about a comment a high-ranking Justice Department official made earlier this week to reporters. Saying that the government would bring no further charges against Flood, the official then added. "At some point you say, 'We have enough.'
Kleibomer said that statement amounted to saying, "We're going to get him with what we have."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark H. Tuohey III assured the judge that the comment was only meant to indicate that the government's case would stand or fall on the allegations already leveled against Flood. Tuohey said, however, that Justice Department officials would not make any other comments on the case.
The 10-count conspiracy and bribery indictment returned against Flood charges that he and his formertop aide, Stephen B. Elko, plotted to "corruptly influence" nine federal agencies on behalf of businessmen who paid them for help in getting federal grants.