House Speaker Jim Wright said Thursday that the government watchdog group Common Cause was wrongly accusing him of unethical behavior and that his actions were "clearly legal and proper."
Common Cause president Fred Wertheimer announced on Wednesday that his group, which monitors and suggests ways of enforcing ethical practices by public officials, was requesting an investigation by the House ethics committee into whether Wright violated conflict-of-interest rules.Wright, D-Texas, for months has been the subject of published reports about his activities on behalf of Texas associates and campaign contributors.
According to the reports, Wright receives 55 percent of the royalties, far above the normal 10 to 15 percent, for his book, "Reflections of a Public Man." The book, published by longtime campaign supporter William Carlos Moore, has earned Wright more than $54,000.
Moore's firms reportedly received more than $250,000 for campaign services during 1985 and 1986 from Wright's re-election committee.
Wertheimer said the ethics committee needs to examine whether the speaker's campaign committees were at all involved in either publishing or selling the book, which he said could be a violation of House or other federal conflict-of-interest rules.
The committee also needs to determine whether Wright improperly sought special treatment for constituents and party campaign contributors in connection with the regulatory activities of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, including blocking legislation, Wertheimer said.