Federal File: Checks and imbalances

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Two members of the Education and Labor Committee and two members of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending are among the 24 Congressmen who have bounced the most checks at the House bank.

At least two of those Representatives, all of whom are Democrats, will not be returning next year. Representative Carl C. Perkins of Kentucky, who bounced 514 checks, previously announced he would not run for re-election. Representative Charles A. Hayes of Illinois, who wrote 716 bad checks, was defeated in a primary election last week. Both sit on the Education and Labor Committee.

Representative Robert J. Mrazek of New York, who sits on the appropriations subcommittee, was number two over all on the overdraft list with 972 checks totaling $351,608. Another subcommittee member, Joseph D. Early of Massachusetts, was cited for 140 bad checks. Mr. Early is facing a tough primary election challenge from another incumbent, due to redistricting.

Only the 24 worst offenders--who were overdrawn in excess of their monthly salary in at least 8 of the 39 months reviewed by investigators--have been officially named. But others are to be named later, and 10 other Education and Labor Committee members joined the rush to confess.

Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, the panel's ranking Republican, was among several lawmakers who took to the House floor last week to angrily denouce the decision to disclose all the names. Like others, he blamed poor management at the House Bank for the problem.

Mr. Goodling said he has written "perhaps 16, perhaps 20'' bad checks, but that he had been told that the bank's rules allowed members to write checks up to the amount of their pay for a given month, an amount he exceeded only once.

"Now we are all going to be judged based on what the press, the public, and some members thought the rules should have been,'' he said.

Other Republicans on the panel admitting to overdrafts include Dick Armey of Texas, Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, Marge Roukema of New Jersey, Susan Molinari of New York, Paul B. Henry of Michigan, and Steve Gunderson, Scott L. Klug, and Tom Petri of Wisconsin.

The only Democrat from the panel to join them was Representative Matthew G. Martinez of California.

Two Democrats on the appropriations panel confessed: Louis Stokes of Ohio and David R. Obey of Wisconsin.

Vol. 11, Issue 27

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