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News Briefs 1

Working Conditions in Senate Ideal For Career-Minded Young People

The Washington Post

Working as a Senate staffer is a rewarding job where career-minded young people - especially women - can learn a lot and get ahead fast. It's not so hot, however, for those who want to make a lot of money or spend time with the family.

In a study released Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Management Foundation found that the average staffer working in a senator's personal office in 1995 will earn $37,209 per year, virtually unchanged from 1993 and a full 30 percent lower than the $51,376 paid to the average Washington-area executive branch employee.

Foundation Executive Director Rick Shapiro blamed the salary stagnation on the Senate's decision not to give staff cost-of-living increases for the last two years, and he warned that continued belt tightening may cause a hemorrhage of good employees to better jobs elsewhere in government or in the private sector.

"The Senate is setting a positive example," as it tries to shrink government, Shapiro said. "But from a management perspective, if you're taking good, smart, capable people and telling them there is very little pay growth, you're going to see a thinning of the ranks."

Foster Documents A Possible Smoking Gun' in Clinton Whitewater Case

The Washington Post

The chairman of the Senate Whitewater committee said Monday that the committee had discovered a possible "smoking gun" indicating that White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster had documents potentially embarrassing to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in his possession, and that the White House may have sought to conceal them immediately following Foster's suicide in July 1993.

Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., quoted from a November 1993 letter from the Clintons' personal attorney, David Kendall, in which Kendall described three files of documents "among Foster's files" that pertained to controversial savings and loan work Hillary Clinton did for her Whitewater business partners.

The committee has been trying to determine whether White House aides concealed or removed embarrassing documents from Foster's office after his death, and why aides blocked a search of the office by Justice Department officials.

Kendall's letter, addressed to the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Ark. refers to the files on Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. D'Amato said the reference would explain why White House aides appeared to have been so anxious to block the Justice search.

Gingrich Case May Spur New Rules

The Washington Post

The ethics investigation of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., is far from over, but it has already produced a proposal to change House rules about outside income.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct plan to jointly introduce legislation this week amending House rules to include book royalties under the limit on outside income House members may earn each year, effective Jan. 1.

In 1989, the House voted to bar its members from keeping more than 15 percent of their annual base salary in outside earned income each year. The base salary in the House is $133,600 and the limit on outside income is $20,040.

House rules specifically exempt "copyright royalties received from established publishers pursuant to usual and customary contractual terms" from the outside income cap. But, the committee wrote, the speaker's $4.5 million advance from HarperCollins, owned by media magnate Murdoch, "greatly exceeds the financial bounds of any book contemplated at the time the current rules were drafted."

The panel unanimously ruled that Gingrich's book contract was "in technical compliance" with House rules, but sternly noted that it "strongly questions the appropriateness of what some could describe as an attempt by you to capitalize on your office."

The rules, the committee wrote, "permit a member (of Congress) to reap significant and immediate financial benefit which appears to be based primarily on his or her position. At a minimum, this creates the impression of exploiting one's office for personal gain. Such a perception is especially troubling when it pertains to the office of the Speaker of the House, a constitutional office requiring the highest standards of ethical behavior."