WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dennis DeConcini's attorney sniped at one of the chief accusers of the "Keating Five" senators yesterday, hoping to shoot down his story that Mr. DeConcini improperly sought to strike a deal for more lenient regulation of a thrift run by political contributor Charles H. Keating Jr.
But the accuser, Edwin Gray, former chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, stuck doggedly by all points of his story, saying that "the whole setting" of the alleged offer -- an April 1987 meeting between him and four senators at Mr. DeConcini's office -- "was wrong, just plain wrong."
The meeting is at the center of the influence-peddling case against the four senators who attended: Mr. DeConcini, D-Ariz., Alan B. Cranston, D-Calif., John Glenn, D-Ohio, and John McCain, R-Ariz. Sen. Donald W. Riegle Jr., D-Mich., is also accused of improper conduct in the case, and evidence shows he helped arrange the meeting.
James Hamilton, Mr. DeConcini's attorney, spent nearly three hours attacking Mr. Gray's story point by point during the seventh day of hear
ings before the Senate Ethics Committee. Several times he raised his voice, and he often protested that Mr. Gray was evading his questions.
Mr. Gray contends that Mr. DeConcini asked him to rescind a regulatory restriction on speculative investments on behalf of Mr. Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan. In exchange, Mr. Gray said he was told, Lincoln would begin offering less-risky home loans to its customers.
The senators who attended the meeting have denied that such a deal, or "quid pro quo," as Mr. Gray called it, was ever offered, and Mr. Hamilton asked Mr. Gray yesterday: "Is there any reason the American public should believe you instead of four prominent U.S. senators?"
"The American public can believe whoever they will," Mr. Gray answered. "I had nothing to gain whatsoever by not telling the truth."
Mr. Gray testified Tuesday that he told his bank board aides about the offer shortly after he returned to his office that day, and depositions from his aides back up that contention.
But Mr. Hamilton asked Mr. Gray why he didn't "raise hell about it" if he thought the senators had improperly pressured him or made an improper offer.
"I did not want to get into a fight where there was no record other than what I'd told my staff," Mr. Gray replied.
When Mr. Gray repeated his contention that he thought the senators acted unethically, Mr. Hamilton asked, "Then why didn't you go to the Senate Ethics Committee?"
"I didn't know there was a Senate Ethics Committee," Mr. Gray said, "with all due respect to you senators."
The committee vice-chairman, Warren B. Rudman, R-N.H., then chimed in, "I'm sure that illness of the public is now cured."