The attorney for Charles H. Keating Jr. wrote the Senate Select Committee on Ethics that "the whole story" of five senators' dealings with the indicted savings and loan executive will never be known unless Keating testifies.
But the attorney said Keating won't testify unless he is given immunity.
In the past, Keating has refused to appear before the ethics panel, citing the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Keating has been charged with fraud, accused of misleading investors, and is free on bond. Six other individuals associated with Keating, including his key lobbyist, have also refused to testify in the case.
In two letters to the special counsel of the Senate ethics panel, which were provided to The Washington Post yesterday by an associate of Keating, the attorney asserted that the "American people have the right to know the full story of these senators and their dealings with my client . . . yet neither the American people nor the committee can know the whole story without my client's testimony." Both letters were dated Nov. 12.
The attorney, Stephen C. Neal, wrote the Senate committee's special counsel, Robert S. Bennett, that, "My client's testimony might help some senators, it might hurt others."
But Neal said Keating will not appear without immunity, which the Senate ethics panel ruled several weeks ago it would not grant him.
In his opening statement Thursday before the ethics committee, Bennett said, "One could ask the question: If Mr. Keating was here, would you believe what he said anyway?"
Granting Keating immunity from anything revealed during testimony before the Sentate could imperil current and threatened charges against the indicted executive, lawyers said.
Keating is a pivotal figure in a Senate ethics investigation of five senators accused of intervening with federal regulators on behalf of Keating and his failing Lincoln Savings and Loan Assocation of Irvine, Calif., during a period when Keating raised $1.3 million for their campaigns and causes.
On Friday, four of the senators -- Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), John Glenn (D-Ohio), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.) -- defended themselves against accusations of wrongdoing. Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) is expected to do the same Monday.