In 1984, Republican Mitch McConnell pulled off the upset of the year, using a "bloodhound" commercial to defeat Sen. Walter D. (Dee) Huddleston (D-Ky.). The ad showed a hunter with a pack of dogs unsuccessfully tracking Huddleston as he made speeches for fees of $1,000 and $2,000 in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles.

"We can't find Dee. Maybe we ought to let him make speeches and switch to Mitch for senator," the television commerical declared. The voters agreed.

Two years later, it would have taken more than a hunter with a bloodhound to keep track of McConnell from Jan. 10 through Jan. 21, 1986, as he went on an 11-day tour from Las Vegas through southern California with all expenses paid by seven different special-interest groups.

To make the trip even more inviting, these groups paid McConnell a total of $10,500 for a series of speeches and "panel discussions."

Starting on Jan. 10, the Electronics Industries Association flew McConnell from Washington to Las Vegas, paid him $1,000 for a panel discussion, and picked up the tab for two nights' food and lodging. On the 12th, the Tobacco Institute flew McConnell to Palm Springs, covered hotel and meals for three days and paid him $2,000 for a speech.

While in Palm Springs, McConnell flew to San Diego for a day at the expense of the National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals which gave him a $1,500 check for a talk.

The costs of the next three days, in Los Angeles, were carried by three defense contractors: McDonnell Douglas, Lockheed Corp. and Northrop Corp., which paid him $1,000, $1,000 and $2,000 for speeches. Finally, McConnell spent the last three days of his trip in San Diego, where expenses were covered by the Distilled Spirits Council, which also provided a $2,000 speech honorarium. In addition to McConnell's expenses, the groups paid expenses for a female friend, according to McConnell's administrative assistant, Neils Holch, who stressed that no rules were broken. McConnell is divorced.

McConnell avoided the trap of missing votes while making speeches -- one of the charges he made against Huddleston. Congress did not reconvene until Jan. 21, 1986, the day he returned.

"I have never done that {missed a vote while giving a speech}," McConnell said, adding that "many of us are not millionaires," and honoraria provide a "sanctioned way to earn money which is fully disclosed. It's nice to have some option."

McConnell's $10,500 sojourn, however, epitomizes the explosive growth for House and Senate members of honoraria and expense-paid trips to luxury resorts financed by corporations, associations and law firms that lobby Capitol Hill.

Public attention has focused on the growth of political action committees (PACs) established by the same interests to finance congressional campaign costs.

At the same time, however, members of the House and Senate have become increasingly dependent for personal income on organizations and individuals seeking their votes. These same groups are financing trips for members of Congress that have many of the earmarks of vacations.

In effect, such groups and companies as Pfizer Inc., General Electric, the American Medical Association, Amoco and a host of other interest groups are not only financing much of the cost of running for office, but are helping to pay the mortgages, food bills and college tuition costs of members of Congress.

Under Senate rules, members were allowed in 1986 to take speaking fees up to 40 percent of their $75,100 salaries, or $30,040. In the House, the limit is 30 percent, or $22,530. Money received in excess of these figures must be turned over to a charity. McConnell, for example, raised $46,600 and turned $16,660 over to charity, including $7,360 to his church, the Crescent Hill Baptist Church.

More than half the Senate receives at least a quarter of earned income -- as opposed to investment income -- from honoraria. Of 59 Senate disclosure statements made available right after the May 15 filing deadline, 36, or 61 percent, reported honoraria income in excess of $20,000, and 30 of those were at or just below the $30,040 maximum. (Many members of the Senate received extensions on the filing deadline). In the House, about a fifth of the members receive $20,000 or more of their earned income from honoraria.

"It's a form of institutionalized bribery," one member of the House said after returning from Las Vegas where he had been paid $1,500 to appear on a panel discussion. But he declined to say this on the record.

Among the findings from a survey of honoraria and trip payments for 1986 are:During debate on the 1986 tax reform bill, numerous corporations, associations and lobbyists provided honoraria and trips to members of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Many of these organizations benefited from special "transition" rules in the tax bill providing them with millions of dollars in tax relief.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., for example, paid a total $16,000 in 1986 to eight members of the Ways and Means Committee, Reps. Guy Vander Jagt (R-Mich.), Sam M. Gibbons (D-Fla.), Ronnie G. Flippo (D-Ala.), Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), Richard T. Schulze (R-Pa.), Brian J. Donnelly (D-Mass.), Philip M. Crane (R-Ill.) and Beryl Anthony Jr. (D-Ark.).

The same year, the company received a break worth an estimated $11 million. The provision allowed Massachusetts Mutual and 14 other companies to pay capital gains tax rates on certain income from market discount bonds, even though the capital gains rate had been eliminated by the 1986 tax bill.

New England Life Insurance, which paid $10,000 in speech fees to members of the committee, received a $1 million tax break.

Joseph E. Seagram and Sons paid $9,000 in honoraria to House committee members and a total $4,000 to Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) of the Senate Finance Committee. Seagram's received a tax break estimated at $38 million, allowing it to retain capital gains rate on income received on installment payments. The Distilled Spirits Council, of which Seagram's is a dominant member, paid $18,000 more in honoraria to Ways and Means and Finance Committee members -- along with at least five California trips -- although council officials said they did not lobby in support of the Seagram's tax break. The payment of honoraria does not guarantee success in Congress. Last year, for example, many heavy industries, their associations and such lobbyists as Charls Walker Associates paid honoraria, but lost some of their most treasured tax provisions, particularly the investment tax credit.

Perhaps the most effective method of winning tax breaks in recent years has been to hire lobbyists who have been key aides to prominent members of the tax-writing committees. These include James Healey and John Salmon, former assistants to Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; and Robert Lighthizer, former chief counsel to the Finance Committee when Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) was chairman. These lobbyists won targeted tax breaks for such corporations as Drexel Burnham Lambert, Metropolitan Life, Bear Stearns and others worth at least $98 million, almost all of which allowed these firms to temporarily retain favored tax treatment after most other companies lost breaks as a result of the 1986 bill. Companies and organizations mostly target members of committees with jurisdiction over legislation that affects them.

Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah) was chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in 1986. Almost all the $30,040 Garn collected in honoraria that year was from groups vitally interested in committee decisions, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Association of Reserve City Bankers, the Association of Thrift Holding Companies, the Credit Union National Association, the U.S. League of Savings Institutions, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the California Bankers Association. Washington-based industry associations have long paid honoraria. Now, registered lobbying firms have begun to pay members of Congress directly for speeches.

Among them are Williams and Jensen, whose clients include Texas Air Corp., First Boston Corp., the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and Texaco; Dow, Lohnes and Albertson, representing at least 58 television stations, Presidential Airlines and Cox Broadcasting; R. Duffy Wall and Associates, representing Brinks Inc., Morgan Guaranty Trust and the N.Y. Bankers Association; and Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis and Holman, whose clients include Aloha Airlines, Dravo Corp. and Martin Marietta.

Kenneth Kay and Lloyd Meeds of Preston, Thorgrimson, Ellis and Holman said the firm holds about 10 "public policy luncheons" annually for partners, associates and clients at which members of the House and Senate are paid $1,000 to speak.

Meeds said such payment from lobbying firms "might be improper if it was a lot of money and it was meant to influence the member. We have limited our fee to $1,000 and we don't try to use it as an instrument to influence the member."

The firm was successful last year in preserving most of the research and development tax break for an alliance of corporations. While the tax bill eliminated such breaks as the investment tax credit and the capital gains rate, the R&D credit was reduced only from 25 percent of the cost of the investment to 20 percent. In addition to speech fees, many members of Congress, and often their spouses, receive expense-paid trips to such luxury resorts as Palm Springs, Palm Beach and islands in the Caribbean.

Last year, for example, Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.) and his wife spent at least 17 nights in such places as Honolulu, Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Key Largo, and Naples, Fla., at the behest of such groups as the National Restaurant Association, Chase Manhattan and the American Electronics Association, while receiving more than $6,000 in speech payments. An aide to Frenzel said the trips did not seem strikingly different from those accepted by other members.

Similarly, Rep. Schulze took at least nine expense-paid trips with his wife to such places as Miami, Palm Beach, Phoenix and St. Thomas on the tab of the Distilled Spirits Council, Pratt & Whitney, R. Duffy Wall and Associates and others. Asked about the propriety of accepting such trips and speech payments from groups seeking his vote, Schulze said, "you'll have to be the judge of that," and cut short the interview.

Schulze and Frenzel are members of the Ways and Means Committee. Their trips are a fraction of the 29 taken by Rostenkowski, including 12 with his wife. Rostenkowski's disclosure statement is one of the least informative of all House members, and there is no indication of where he went or how much time he spent on any of these trips. The House disclosure forms require far less detail than the Senate forms. Under the section where trip reimbursements are to be listed, the House asks only for a "brief description of reimbursements of $250 or more." Senate forms request specific information on location and date of a trip. Rostenkowski did, however, attend the annual Bob Hope Classic golf tournament in January in Palm Springs, which has become knowm among lobbyists as "Washington West." One organizer called it "a giant group grope with lobbyists and members {of Congress}, a feeding frenzy of honoraria." Among the companies and associations that have sponsored expense-paid trips to Palm Springs coinciding with the Bob Hope Classic are the Tobacco Institute, the Outdoor Advertising Association, the Distilled Spirits Association, Joseph E. Seagram and Sons, and the Air Travel Association, drawing as many as 50 members of Congress to the resort.

Officials of the organizations defend the practice, most often arguing that speeches by lawmakers provide insight and knowledge for executives and staff members.

Barry Gotterher, senior vice president for government relations at Massachusetts Mutual, said, "Back in 1983, we decided that it was really to be the beginning of the rewriting of the insurance tax law . . . . We concluded that at that time that we should try to bring in speakers from Washington . . . ." Members of Congress were invited to provide a "Washington overview: 'this is what's happening on taxes' . . . 'This is what's happening in your industry' . . . a snapshot of what's happening in Washington."

Geoffrey Peterson, director of federal government relations for the Distilled Spirits Council, said, "we have a small PAC. It {the giving of honoraria and trips} is a resource we do have." Peterson said members of Congress "appreciate your helping them . . . . It's a nice way to open up access to them."

Walker Merryman, a vice president of the Tobacco Institute, said the organization spent $91,000 on honoraria last year, but many members of Congress were also paid to attend institute meetings in Palm Springs and in Florida.

"Several members of Congress came and spoke at a number of seminars" at the Palm Springs gathering which, Merryman noted, was held "at the same time as the Bob Hope Classic." In Washington, he said, members of Congress are also paid $1,000 to $2,000 honoraria when they address members of the institute at breakfast sessions.

There is relatively little correlation between the politics of legislators and ideology and/or personal wealth. For example, while most senators accepted the maximum of $30,040, or close to that amount, neither liberal Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) or conservative Sen. William L. Armstrong (R-Colo.) accepted honoraria as income, although Armstrong turned over a $2,000 speaking fee to charity.

Sen. David L. Boren (D-Okla.) is leading the fight for campaign finance reform and has always refused to accept PAC money. Last year, however, he accepted $29,413 in honorarium payments, almost all from interests actively seeking to influence his vote, including $2,000 apiece from such lobbying firms as Williams and Jensen and R. Duffy Wall, the American Bankers Association and the Tobacco Institute.

Among senators whose disclosure reports indicate they are worth $1 million or more, some -- Sens. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) and Armstrong, for example -- accepted no personal income from honoraria. The ones who did include John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, who accepted $11,875; Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska), with $25,000 and Alan J. Dixon (D-Ill.), $28,040.

Over the past 10 years, Congress has adopted conflicting positions on the honoraria issue.

The most severe restrictions were imposed in the post-Watergate period when, in 1977, honoraria were limited to 15 percent of congressional salaries, or $8,625, as part of an arrangement under which congressional salaries were raised from $44,600 to $57,500.

Since then, however, pressure to raise honorarium ceilings have been intense, and the limit has grown to 30 percent in the House and 40 percent in the Senate. With salaries jumping to $89,500 this year, this translates to $26,850 in the House and $35,850 in the Senate.

"Controlling honoraria is a little like trying to close a tax loophole," one House member said. "Someone always figures out a way to get the cash flowing again."