The Federal Election Commission said yesterday that two fund-raising committees for former House speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) accepted an illegal contribution from a Texas businessmen later imprisoned in connection with the savings and loan scandal.
FEC spokesman Scott Moxley said Wright's principal fund-raising committee and his leadership political action committee have agreed to pay penalties totaling $1,500 to settle the case.
At issue was Wright's use of a chartered airplane that crisscrossed Texas between June 30 and July 2, 1985, to promote a Fort Worth fund-raiser that sought $1 million for Wright's principal campaign committee, the Wright Appreciation Committee, and his leadership political action committee, the Majority Congress Committee.
Wright was en route to Haiti and could not be reached for comment, a spokesman said.
The two committees acknowledged that they accepted an illegal contribution from the owner of the plane, Kenneth C. Hood, and that they failed to disclose the contribution. The committees also acknowledged a violation in the way they repaid Hood for use of the plane 46 months later, Moxley said.
Wright repaid Hood $8,050 in April 1989, amid a House Standards of Official Conduct Committee investigation that led to Wright's resignation a month later. At the time, Wright said the failure to pay the bill was an "oversight."
Hood had purchased the plane from Sunbelt Savings Association, a failed thrift in Dallas, through a $1.3 million loan from Sunbelt. Hood owed Sunbelt $90 million by the end of 1986, the FEC said.
Hood told the FEC that Edwin McBirney, then owner of Sunbelt, said Wright needed the airplane, and that McBirney promised that he and Thomas M. Gaubert, owner of another thrift, would pay for the trip.
Gaubert, whose S&L was closed by state regulators in 1987, had persuaded Wright to intervene with federal regulators on behalf of the Independent American Savings Association of Irving, Tex.