A crowd under an ethical cloud

Some members of Congress who have come under an ethical cloud:

-Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill: Was investigated on allegations he diverted federal money and campaign contributions to his personal use. He had to give up his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee when he was indicted in 1994. He pleaded guilty in 1996 to lesser charges, served 15 months in prison and was pardoned by then-President Clinton in 2000.

-Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.: Was reprimanded by the House in 1990 for using his influence on behalf of a prostitute. Frank admitted paying the man for sex, hiring him with his own money as an aide and writing a letter on congressional stationary on his behalf. “I should have known better,” Frank said, attributing his actions in part to trying to keep his homosexuality private. Constituents forgave his ethical transgression, re-electing him, and he’s still a feisty voice in the House.

-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: Was one of five senators accused of using influence with federal regulators on behalf of a savings and loan executive, Charles H. Keating Jr. McCain was rebuked in 1991 after a long ethics committee investigation. He became a champion of changes in campaign finance law and a critic of lawmakers steering money to home-state projects. Often at odds with his party, he remains a popular Republican with independent and Democratic voters.

-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.: Was investigated on allegations he used tax-exempt organizations for political purposes. Architect of the GOP’s “Contract With America” conservative agenda of the mid-1990s, Gingrich paid a $300,000 penalty recommended by an ethics committee report in 1997, but kept his job. After political and personal missteps, he resigned after House Republicans suffered midterm losses in 1998. He’s been weighing a presidential bid.

-Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio: Was accused of taking kickbacks and favors from businessmen and staff members and was convicted in 2002 on charges of bribery, conspiracy and racketeering. Traficant was subsequently expelled from the House and is now serving an eight-year prison term. He’d survived earlier troubles, including a 1987 court ruling that he owed $108,000 in taxes on $163,000 he accepted from mobsters in 1980.

© 2005 The Associated Press