The Resolution Trust Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision could decide as early as this week whether to release to congressional Republicans thousands of pages of documents relating to the Whitewater matter.

Last week, a dozen GOP members of the House Government Operations Committee wrote to Jonathan L. Fiechter, acting OTS director, and John E. Ryan, acting RTC chief executive, demanding documents related to Madison Guaranty, the failed Little Rock thrift run by a former business partner of President Clinton.

The Republicans on the committee made their request after Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, the House Banking Committee's senior Republican, lost a lawsuit last month seeking the documents.

The OTS and RTC had refused to release the documents, saying they would not comply with requests from individual members of Congress, but only those pursuing a committee investigation. Banking Committee Chairman Henry Gonzalez didn't seek the documents.

During that case, the judge and the agencies cited in footnotes a rule allowing any seven members of the government operations committee to request documents as an option for Rep. Leach.

The Republicans on the Government Operations Committee, led by ranking minority member William F. Clinger Jr. of Pennsylvania, are not beginning a new Whitewater investigation. They are, "simply aiding the banking committee's ongoing investigation," said Kevin Sabo, the operations panel's minority general counsel.

The GOP lawmaker requested the documents under a 1928 law which requires an agency to "submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee," if it is requested by the committee or any seven members.

An OTS spokesman said the agency is "reviewing the letter."

A spokesman for the RTC said, "The request is under consideration - lawyers have to look at it."

Mr. Sabo said the committee Republicans will seek results this week. "If they [agency officials] hem and haw, we will set up a meeting if need be with Congressman Clinger and the agencies" to press for a resolution. "If they would try to deny us, we would go back with Leach to the same courtroom," he said.

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