WASHINGTON -- The special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics has recommended that the panel clear two of five senators under investigation for their links to the savings and loan debacle, congressional officials said yesterday.
In a confidential report submitted to the committee on Sept. 10, the special counsel, Robert S. Bennett, concluded there was not adequate evidence to merit a full-scale investi
gation of Sen. John Glenn, D-Ohio, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., several officials said.
But they said Mr. Bennett had advised the committee to move forward with an investigation of the other senators linked to Charles H. Keating Jr., the owner of a failed savings and loan association in California: Alan Cranston of California, Donald W. Riegle Jr. of Michigan and Dennis DeConcini of Arizona. All are Democrats.
If Mr. McCain is dropped from the investigation, the political implications could be significant: He is the only Republican under scrutiny, and Republicans could portray the scandal as a Democratic one.
There is disagreement among the panel members on whether to accept Mr. Bennett's recommendation, according to the officials, who said this was holding up a vote. The panel has met at least three times since Mr. Bennett made his recommendation more than a week ago. The last meeting was Thursday.
The ethics committee announced in December that it was opening an investigation intowhether the senators had improperly intervened with regulators on behalf of Mr. Keating, owner of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association of Irvine, Calif., at a time when it was approaching insolvency.
Mr. Keating and his associates contributed a total of $1.3 million to the senators' campaigns or to groups affiliated with them.
For months, there have been persistent rumors that Mr. Glenn and Mr. McCain would be dropped from the investigation before the November elections.