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Full payment comes due on Nov. 3 for some in the House bank scandal

October 23, 1992|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Staff Writer

In Texas, Rep. Ronald D. Coleman, a Democrat with 673 overdrafts, looked straight into the camera of his TV ad and told his El Paso constituents, "I owe you an apology for my personal bookkeeping at the House bank. I was careless, and I take full responsibility for that."

The Democratic lawmaker, who was 18 points behind earlier this year, is now neck and neck with his GOP opponent, Chip Taberski, a TV sportscaster.

"Even [apologizing] does not guarantee that the voters forgive you," said Maren Hesla, political director of Rindy Media, which produced the ad. "Not doing that guarantees that the voters won't forgive you."

But some in the 19th District of Pennsylvania wonder if their congressman has been contrite enough.

When the list of House overdrawers was released in March, Mr. Goodling held an emotional news conference. He released bank statements, blamed the shoddy recordkeeping at the bank and said that after the death of his mother it was "the most painful period" of his life. He insists that he has been forthcoming on the checks, saying he was told of only one overdraft by House bank officials.

Still, the overdrafts continue to bother voters like Christy Becraft, 22, a waitress at the Central Restaurant in York. Two years ago she supported the congressman, but this time she's uncertain. "You shouldn't be out there running the government with all that going on," she said.

l Trying to appear upbeat as he toured the small shops of downtown Gettysburg last week, Mr. Goodling said, "I think it's going well, but it's difficult to tell. I have to appeal to my constituency."

He chats easily with voters, some of whom recall family connections. Passing the courthouse, the congressman shakes hands with Police Chief Todd Dunlap of Hamilton, who asks for more law enforcement assistance from Congress.

Chief Dunlap brushes aside the bank scandal as Mr. Goodling heads down Baltimore Street. "Everybody makes a mistake," he shrugs, saying there is strong support for the congressman.

But there is still lingering resentment as the congressman strolls into, of all places, the Adams County National Bank. As he greets employees, switchboard operator and undecided voter Teresa Wood is drawn into talk of the other bank.

"I don't think they should get away with that," she said. "We can't."

THE HOUSE BANK

* Eighteen current and former members of the House sought re-election after being identified as "abusers" of House bank privileges.

;1HOUSE MEMBER.. .. .. .OVERDRAFTS.. .. ..ELECTION

.. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..PROSPECTS

Bill Goodling (R-Pa.).. .430.. .. .. .. ..Tossup

Towns (D-N.Y.).. .. ..408.. .. .Solid Democrat

Harold E. Ford (D-Tenn.).388.. .. .Solid Democrat

William L. Clay (D-Mo.)..328.. .. .Solid Democrat

John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) 273.. ..Solid Democrat

Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio)...213.. .. .. .. .Tossup

Joseph D. Early (D-Mass.)..140.. .. .. .. .Tossup

Ronald D. Coleman (D-Texas) 673.. .. .. .Tossup

* Won primary before overdrafts disclosed

DEFEATED.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...OVERDRAFTS

Charles Hatcher (D-Ga.).. .. .. .. .. .. ..819

Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.).. .. .. .. .. ..743

Charles A. Hayes (D-Ill.).. .. .. .. .. ...716

Bill Alexander (D-Ark.).. .. .. .. .. .. ..487

Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.).. .. .. .. .. .. .386

** Jim Bates (D-Calif.) .. .. .. .. .. .. ..89

** Attempted political comeback

RETIRED AFTER SCANDAL BROKE.. .. .. .. .OVERDRAFTS

Robert J. Mrazek (D-N.Y.).. .. .. .. .. .. .920

Robert W. Davis (R-Mich.).. .. .. .. .. ....878

Carl C. Perkins (D-Ky.).. .. .. .. .. .. .. 514

Edward F. Feighan (D-Ohio).. .. .. .. .. ...397

Sources: Congressional Quarterly, Cook Political Report

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