Excerpts from remarks yesterday by Robert S. Bennett, special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, at the hearing on the relationship between former Lincoln Savings and Loan executive Charles H. Keating Jr. and five U.S. senators:

{Identifying for the committee the standards by which to judge the senators' conduct.} First, the standards which I will discuss were not created for this case. They are not -- to use the phrase of one of the distinguished lawyers in this case -- they are not newly minted. Nor are these the opinions of special counsel. They exist now, and they have existed for a long time. While they do not appear admittedly in a single format for sale at the Government Printing Office, these standards and principles are readily available and understood by any senator with common sense who serves the public with honor and with integrity.

The issue before you, I respectfully submit, is not whether there are standards. There are standards. Should this committee conclude that there are no standards applicable to the conduct in question of this case, then the only standard that will have been established is a double standard, one that applies to the Senate, and the other standards that apply to other public servants. . . .

I am identifying for you what this case is that we are talking about.

One, several senators met with regulators about a pending enforcement matter involving a single company which had sued the {Federal Home Loan} Bank Board in the federal courts.

Two, the senators did not have aides present. And more importantly, the chief regulator, Chairman {Edwin J.} Gray, was specifically directed not to bring aides with him.

Three, Mr. {Charles H.} Keating, on whose behalf the meeting was held, was a major political contributor to each of the senators who attended the meeting.

Four, at the meetings . . . the regulators were asked to withdraw a duly promulgated regulation at the request of a single company and were told that the company would do certain things in return.

Five, there can be no reasonable doubt -- and again I hasten to add that I agree, as I will make it very clear, that members of the United States Senate can and must have the power to pressure regulators. . . .

There can be no doubt, no reasonable doubt based on the evidence, that the purpose of these meetings, at least as to certain senators, was to pressure the regulators to take action consistent with the wishes of Charles Keating. It will be for you to determine whether or not that was proper or improper.

Six, at the meeting of April 9, 1987, the senators were told that a criminal referral was going to be made and that certain criminal wrongdoing was described by the regulators. It was not simply a criminal referral, but there was discussion of such things as file stuffing and so forth. . . . Following the meeting, two senators {Alan Cranston and Dennis DeConcini} continued to contact regulators on behalf of Mr. Keating and continued to accept political contributions from him. . . .

What are the standards and the principles in this case that exist now?

One, a senator should not take contributions from an individual he knows or should know is attempting to procure his services to intervene in a specific matter pending before a federal agency. . . .

Two, a senator should not take unusual or aggressive action with regard to a specific matter before a federal agency on behalf of a contributor when he knows or has reason to know the contributor has sought to procure his services.

Three, a senator should not conduct his fund-raising efforts or engage in office practices which lead contributors to conclude that they can buy access to him.

Four, in addition to these, what are commonly called more objective standards, there is a well-recognized and established appearance standard. . . . A senator should not engage in conduct which would appear to be improper to a reasonable, nonpartisan, fully informed person. Such conduct undermines the public's confidence in the integrity of the government and is an abuse of one's official position. Such conduct is wrong in addition to appearing to be wrong. . . .

{Bennett told the committee he interviewed current and former members of Congress to learn more about the "realities" of political life.}

The message is loud and the message is clear: We are frustrated because we are boxed in. We're boxed in by a system in which we are expected to provide assistance to constituents who have problems with the federal government, and at the same time, they must seek campaign contributions from these varied people. . . .

And this is going to be the only time in this entire proceeding that I'm going to sort of rise above the case a little bit and ask you for something. The problem becomes clear. More and more constituents are requesting the assistance of their congressman, at the same time that those congressmen must ask more and more of the same constituents for campaign contributions. I ask you this: How can our system of government maintain the appearance and the reality of integrity as these trends continue?

Now none of this is an excuse for wrongdoing, if wrongdoing occurred. It is, however, I respectfully submit to you, a booming warning that unless these trends are recognized and dealt with, we will have more cases like this, and the reputation of this body and its members will be in utter ruin. . . .

Now, simply because constituent service is generally a good thing, it does not mean, members of the committee, by merely asserting that "what I did was constituent service," that by simply that, that a senator can erect an impenetrable shield barring ethical inquiry. . . .

Members of this committee, this case is going to force upon you the obligation of giving guidance on the limits of constituent service, because, in passing judgment on past actions under the standards which currently exist, you inevitably give guidance for the future.

I know that you will be concerned that drawing lines in this area will have a chilling effect on the performance of constituent service in the future, but you should keep in mind that the abuse of constituent service by a few senators does as much, if not more, to damage the effectiveness of constituent service by undermining the credibility of all legislators who deal with federal regulators on behalf of a constituent or contributor. . . .

It is fair to ask the following questions: In the name of constituent service, do the likes of Charles Keating get special treatment or special access at the expense of other constituents or the public good? Is a senator, in the name of constituent service, giving a Mr. Keating perhaps unintentionally an aura of political muscle or invincibility to foster his own personal agenda? Is constituent service being provided in exchange for long-term political support, or specific contributions at the expense of the public good?. . . .

In performing constituent service, particularly on important matters that would impact on others, does not the senator have to think long and hard about his silent constituents? I have heard in this case a lot about constituent service, but this question must be asked. Charles Keating was not the only constituent in this case.

People who lost their life savings because of what has been described by Judge {Stanley} Sporkin as "the looting of Lincoln" were also constituents of at least some of these senators, and the taxpayers who will have to pay for Lincoln's failure are also the senators' constituents.

All of these people had constituents' rights. Who was listening to their concerns when the meetings and the phone calls to regulators were occurring, and in certain instances occurring in secret with a direction to the chairman of the board not to bring his own staff?

Now in this regard, let me make a point that is of absolute importance: Let me state that it would be grossly unfair to conclude that these senators were responsible for the collapse of the Lincoln Savings & Loan, or that they urged or condoned the sale of ACC bonds at Lincoln branches which has caused such hardship to so many people. . . .

Mr. Keating's agenda, as we will talk about this afternoon, was to place his friends in high positions and to get rid of his enemies, and a fair question is, where was the casework on something that had a tremendous impact, or could have an impact -- a tremendous impact -- on the American people?

Further, it is fair to ask these senators whether they, or at least some of them, contributed to the end result, or aided and abetted the end result, by giving to Mr. Keating that aura of political muscle and invincibility which he, the grand manipulator, used so effectively in accomplishing his personal agenda at the expense of the public good. . . .

I wish to emphasize at this early stage that in this case there is not one single factor that makes what these senators did proper or improper. You, members of the committee, must look at the entire set of circumstances and not just a single fact or element. You must look at the entire context -- the entire context -- to reach the right result. The issue is not how many senators can meet with a regulator. The issue is not how close in time action can follow contribution. What is important is the totality of circumstances in this case. . . .

In fairness to all senators, Chairman Gray and the San Francisco regulators say that they were not intimidated by either meeting, and they were not threatened by the senators. They further say that the meetings had no effect on either the timing or the findings contained in San Francisco's Lincoln examination report, which was issued just three weeks later.

But as I will show, the senatorial intervention made itself well known throughout the system, that Mr. Keating was a pretty special person who could bring together four senators one week and five senators seven days later.

I think it is very important for the resolution of this case to point this out, that the fact that the regulators were not influenced is irrelevant to the ethical propriety or impropriety of what occurred. The fact that a senator tries but fails to influence a regulator is to the credit of the regulator and not to the credit of the senator. . . .