The Senate Labor Committee is pushing ahead with its own investigation of Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan despite the appointment of a special federal prosecutor, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Thursday.
Kennedy said he thought it "important for the integrity of the committee, and for its responsibility to the United States Senate, that we conduct our own review."
Kennedy and committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) have voiced concern over the truthfulness of Donovan's Senate confirmation testimony last year in light of recent allegations now under scrutiny.
A special prosecutor, Leon Silverman of New York, was appointed by a federal court last week to pursue allegations that Donovan was present at a 1977 luncheon at which another official of his New Jersey construction company handed a New York labor leader an envelope containing a $2,000 "token of appreciation."
Donovan was not questioned about the incident at his confirmation hearings before the Senate Labor Committee last January, but he did testify, in response to similar allegations involving union corruption and organized crime, that "We have never been extorted. We have never made a payoff."
Silverman has also been authorized to investigate any other alleged violation of federal law by Donovan that might be developed during his work.
Interviewed on NBC-TV's "Today" show, Kennedy said, "There is every indication that Silverman will review the total range of allegations and charges. Mr. Donovan himself has indicated that he would welcome such an investigation."
Kennedy also said he "thought it would have been advisable for Donovan to step aside while this investigation was taking place," but "that issue is behind us."