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Bush Vows Hands Off in S&L; Probe of Son

From Associated Press

President Bush promised today not to interfere in thrift regulators’ investigation of his son Neil’s involvement with a failed savings and loan in Colorado.

Citing the thrift crisis as a key reason for his willingness to consider new taxes, Bush also renewed his pledge to pursue vigorously individuals guilty of defrauding S&Ls.;

“My interest . . . is to protect the depositor, put the people that broke the law in jail. . . . The size of the savings and loan problem is terrible, and we are trying very hard to go after the criminals and to have in place rules and regulations so that this will never happen again,” he said.

The President offered a warm personal assessment of his 34-year-old son. He described Neil Bush as “probably the most sensitive of the four boys, maybe the second most sensitive” and said he has “full confidence in the integrity and honor of my son--what dad wouldn’t?”

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“I will stay out of anything to do with the investigation, but this is a fine young man,” he told reporters at a White House news conference.

“I’m convinced that if he’s done something wrong, the system will so state. If he hasn’t, I hope it’s fair enough to say, ‘Hey, the boy did nothing wrong,’ ” Bush said. " . . . The system is going to work, whether it’s the President’s son or somebody else.”

Bush also challenged “those that allege misconduct . . . to speak up and say what it is.”

The Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision, which is pursuing administrative sanctions against the younger Bush, has so far refused to release its charges against him.

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Some members of the House Banking Committee have accused him of having a conflict of interest while serving from 1985 to 1988 as a board member of Silverado Banking, Savings & Loan Assn. in Denver. The S&L;, which collapsed at a cost of $1 billion to taxpayers, made loans to several of his business partners which were not repaid.


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