AFTER NEARLY two years of inquiry and deliberation, the Senate Ethics Committee announced its conclusions about the Keating Five: All five senators exercised poor judgment in mixing official duties with their financial connections to indicted S&L mogul Charles Keating. But only one of the five, Alan Cranston of California, "engaged in an impermissible pattern of conduct" that might -- repeat might -- lead to disciplinary action by the full Senate.
Cynics are entitled to offer their own interpretation of events. The ailing Cranston is the only senator who has announced his intention to retire in 1992, and so might have been considered expendable. . . . Keating had the habit of making five- and six-figure contributions to the campaign treasuries of senators who intervened on his behalf in the banking-regulation process. All have asserted that there was no quid pro quo in their efforts on behalf of this constituent.
Well, how many people in Arizona can furnish millions of dollars in real estate loans to senators who will harass the federal bureaucracy at their behest? Not too many. . . . Once again, the Senate would rather protect its own than sweep its house clean.