One of the questions we thought was raised by the complex financial dealings of Rep. James Weaver (D-Ore.) is settled. The question we believed the House should investigate is whether Mr. Weaver had access to any confidential commodities information when he was speculating in commodities for his own account. The answer, furnished by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission last month, is no. No such information was furnished to any congressional committee during that time. So there is no reason to believe Mr. Weaver saw or in any way used confidential government information.
There is still, however, an uncomfortable question raised by Mr. Weaver's campaign finances, even if technically he did nothing wrong. House rules say a member "shall convert no campaign funds to personal use" except for reimbursement for campaign spending and "shall expend no funds from his campaign account not attributable to bona fide campaign purposes." Between 1981 and 1984 Mr. Weaver wrote checks on his campaign account totalling $81,934 to his commodities broker and reported them on his campaign finance reports as loans from the campaign committee to himself personally. After a report of this appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Weaver amended his campaign finance reports last month, stating that what he had originally described as loans to him from the campaign committee were actually repayments of loans from him to the campaign committee.
In fact, the committee did owe him money: in 1974 he had lent his campaign $24,500, and that, together with 14 percent interest and credit for the $10,932 paid in 1984, added up to something more than the $81,934 in question. So, he says, he wasn't borrowing but simply taking money due him, and therefore didn't violate the House rule. It's clear that he violated no law, since everyone who was a member of Congress in 1980 can legally convert campaign funds to personal use, provided they pay any income tax due. Also, he avoided the unsavory but legal business of raising money from lobbyists and PACs to pay off campaign debts, since he declines most PAC contributions.
That is Mr. Weaver's position; the argument on the other side is that the transaction, as Mr. Weaver originally characterized it, violated House rules and that it still should be considered a violation even though he has put different labels on it. It is a tangled matter, which we think the House ethics committee should look into. Certainly the House should take care to enforce its rule against personal use of campaign funds -- especially by congressmen who have fewer scruples than Mr. Weaver does about how they raise money.