A two-term Georgia congressman under investigation in an alleged scheme to launder drug money on Monday asked that he be indicted immediately so that he can attempt to clear his name before the Nov. 8 election.
Rep. Pat Swindall, a Republican, took the floor of the House to make public what he termed an unprecedented request to Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh for the federal grand jury action.
A Justice Department spokesman, asked about Swindall’s request, repeated a statement that actions of the grand jury and the U.S. prosecutor’s office in Atlanta would not be influenced by “third parties who may be subjects of investigation.”
“Indict me tomorrow and put me on trial Monday in Atlanta,” Swindall said in making his extraordinary proposal. “I will walk into the courtroom with a simple yellow pad and prove my innocence.”
Blames Leaks to Press
Swindall, 38, said that he has been a victim of “countless leaks of grand jury evidence” in the Atlanta newspapers and that he no longer could stand by while being tried in a forum in which he cannot defend himself.
Published reports have said that Swindall was recorded by undercover Treasury Department agents investigating charges of a money-laundering operation allegedly run by drug dealers in the Atlanta area.
Swindall, facing a tough reelection fight in Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, is the primary target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because of another investigation into the alleged money-laundering scheme, one being conducted by the House Ethics Committee. Swindall’s Democratic opponent, Ben Jones, ran against him in 1986 and lost by just 6 percentage points.
In a letter to Thornburgh, which he read on the House floor, Swindall wrote:
“It is with deep personal regret that I make the unprecedented request to be indicted immediately on all charges that may be under consideration by a federal grand jury recently reconvened in the northern district of Georgia.”
Requests Early Trial
He added: “Simple justice and fairness demand that I be allowed to prove my innocence in a court of law rather than in the media. Simple justice and fairness also demand that I be allowed to prove my innocence before, rather than after, the Nov. 8 election.”
He charged that he is being tried “on the front page of a hostile newspaper,” rather than by a jury and under the presumption of innocence accorded to accused persons.
“While a ‘not guilty’ verdict can never repair all of the damages I’ve already sustained, it will at least stop further damages from occurring,” Swindall wrote Thornburgh.
“I stand ready, willing and able to go to trial on the day following the indictment which I now request,” he concluded.