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RESPONSE BY UTAHNS IS DIVIDED

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One congressman who didn't join a standing ovation for House Speaker Jim Wright as he defended himself against ethics charges before he resigned was Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah.

Hansen, a member of the House ethics committee that has investigated Wright for the past year, sat stern-faced, shaking his head while others clapped. He said Wright was playing fast and loose with the facts, and he didn't feel like applauding him."When I looked at him, it was like looking at Captain Queeg(from "The Caine Mutiny") nervously playing with marbles while he tried to defend himself," Hansen said.

"I took copious notes during his speech and felt like rebutting his comments. But I guess that's not appropriate now. But he would have been eaten alive in a floor debate about his book deal. He might have been able to get off some other charges, but not that," he said.

Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah - the first congressman to call for Wright's resignation weeks ago - also shed few tears at Wright's ouster, saying Wright had been arrogant and abused power.

But on the other extreme of reaction from the Utah delegation was Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, who saw Wright as a victim of an unfair system that charged him with violating rules 69 times without letting him defend himself against the charges immediately.

"It was over for Jim Wright the day they announced they had reason to believe he violated rules 69 times." He said such charges can be made with little evidence and appear to make the accused guilty.

Owens also saw Wright's downfall as the result of a congressional game of tit for tat that started when Senate Democrats rejected Republican John Tower as secretary of defense. "There's an ugly vindictive spirit here. It's not conducive to legislation. It has paralyzed us."

Hansen and Owens agree that the vindictive spirit is not over yet - despite Wright's call for it to stop.

When Owens was asked if Democrats are talking about "getting Gingrich," he said, "Oh yes."

All Utah congressmen also said they felt Wright made the correct decision when he resigned, but they gave different reasons why.

Nielson favored Wright's resignation because he had abused his authority and not been a good speaker.

"There was an arrogance in the power used. His manner in dealing with the day-to-day workings of the House - with his constant application of restrictive rules and a double sessions whenever the vote was going against him - left him with very few friends on either side of the aisle."

Owens said, "Resignation was the best thing to do under the circumstances. It was the only way he could maintain integrity."

Hansen also had a parting shot on whether Wright's resignation was a courageous act, as many Democrats had claimed.

"Did it take courage for the speaker to face his colleagues? Certainly it did, but courage should never be confused with integrity. Courage emanates from threats; integrity arises from choice. His actions were not consistent with a man seeking to put his conduct above question."