WASHINGTON-- The Public Securities Association and its executive vice president contributed a total of $6,000 to Rep. Dan Rostenkowski's legal defense fund in 1993, House records show.
The Illinois Democrat set up the fund in 1993 after he became the target of a federal investigation into the House Post Office scandal. Last month he was charged in a 17-count indictment that includes allegations of conspiracy to violate federal laws and embezzlement of government property.
The PSA was among 10% contributors last year that gave $5,000, the maximum permitted by the House Ethics Committee, according to the 1993 financial disclosure statement Rostenkowski filed with the House office of records in May.
Micah Green, the association's executive vice president, gave $1,000 to the defense fund, the disclosure statement shows. A total of 308 contributors donated nearly $800,000 to the fund last year.
The list includes no other organizations associated with municipal finance, such as the National League of Cities or Government Finance Officers Association, and almost no individual municipal underwriting firms. Lobbyists said, however, that the PSA'S decision to make a donation is understandable because it is the only such association that operates a political action committee.
But the contribution by the PSA, which represents municipal bond underwriting firms, did raise some eyebrows because of the controversy that has surrounded political contributions to state and local officials over the last few months.
Lobbyists said the contribution illustrates a double standard under which federal officials accept contributions from underwriters while criticizing state and local officials for doing the same. Rostenkowski has never publicly discussed his feelings on the issue.
Green said he and the PSA made the donations because Rostenkowski "has been extremely responsive to the needs of the public finance community over the last several years, and we just felt that a friend in need is a friend indeed. It's absolutely consistent with that relationship to be helpful, within the rules."
In looking at the list overall, the PSA turns out to be one of the few lobbying organizations to contribute. Less than a dozen made donations, including the American Trucking Association, which gave $5,000, and the American Council of Life Insurance, which gave $2,000.
Individual contributors dominated the list, and many were present or former members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rostenkowski chaired the committee until his indictment, when he was required under House rules to step aside until he is cleared of all charges. The second-ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Sam Gibbons, D-Fla., is now acting chairman.
A large contingent of contributors came from the Chicago area, including Jerry Reisendorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and Chicago White Sox baseball team, and Patrick H. Arbor, the chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade.
Municipal bond investment bankers were virtually absent from the list. But Rostenkowski did receive a contribution of $3,000 from the political action committee of First Chicago Corp., which is the parent company of First Chicago Capital Markets Inc., a bond underwriting firm.
Few financial firms of any type were listed as contributors, despite the fact that the Ways and Means panel deals with financial issues as they relate to taxes. The few that did contribute include First Chicago and Long Beach Investment Co., which gave $1,000.
Rostenkowski's temporary relinquishment of his position as head of the powerful Ways and Means panel last month was a blow to the municipal bond community, because he had come to be known as a supporter of tax-exempt finance in recent years. Rostenkowski is credited with providing crucial support in the drive to make the tax exemptions for mortgage revenue bonds and small-issue industrial development bonds permanent last year.