Waxman, Berman Review Checks for Past Overdrafts : Government: Reps. Gallegly and Thomas say they've overdrawn their accounts at the House bank. Moorhead and Lewis say they haven't. Beilenson awaits word.


Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Howard L. Berman (D-Panorama City) were scrambling Friday to reconstruct their bank records to determine if they had written check overdrafts at the House bank.

Waxman and Berman were the only San Fernando Valley-area lawmakers uncertain whether they are involved in the growing scandal.

Rep. William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield) said Friday that he wrote an undetermined number of check overdrafts. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said last October that he had written two bad checks that exceeded the funds in his accounts by a total of $174.

Spokesmen for Reps. Carlos J. Moorhead (R-Glendale) and Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) said the lawmakers received confirmation from the House Ethics Committee that they did not write any overdrafts. A spokeswoman for Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles) reiterated his belief that he had not done so and said he was seeking a clean bill from the Ethics Committee.

Comments by the seven legislators came after the House, in a vote early Friday, authorized disclosure of the names of all 355 members who wrote one or more bad checks. Some House members wrote hundreds of thousands of dollars in overdrafts during a 39-month period before the bank was closed last October.

Waxman, who previously said his banking was a private matter, was seeking to reconstruct his record during the past three years, said chief aide Phil Schiliro.

"We don't rely on the records" of former House Sergeant-at-Arms Jack Russ, who ran the bank, Schiliro said. "We don't have confidence in them."

Berman, who had previously told The Times that he had not bounced any checks, was also "spending the weekend and Monday with his accounts," said administrative assistant Gene Smith.

"We have learned that you cannot tell from the statements whether a check was an overdraft or not," Smith said. "You have to go through check by check and you have to look at the deposit slips. . . . It's up to them to try to reconstruct all this."

Thomas, whose district includes parts of the Antelope Valley, told The Times through a spokeswoman in October that he had not bounced any checks. As public outrage mounted, lawmakers complained this week that they had been in the dark about their own records because the bank simply covered most overdrafts without informing the members.

"Have I 'bounced' checks? No," Thomas said Friday. "Have I written checks which triggered the overdraft protection under the so-called bank? . . . The answer is yes."

He said he would wait until the Ethics Committee informed him how many times he had done so and how large the checks were before he would speculate on the number or size of the overdrafts. He said, however, that he was not among the 24 current and former lawmakers who had been singled out by the Ethics Committee as egregious abusers.

Thomas said that he and his colleagues had discovered a great deal more about the bank's operation since it was closed last fall after four decades of operation.

"All of us are a whole lot more knowledgeable than we were then," Thomas said. "I now understand the records that I look at and rely on are not worth the paper they are written on. . . . We're subjected to the mistakes, the foibles, the slovenliness of the bank's structure."

A spokesman for Gallegly said the congressman has reviewed his records and hasn't found any additional bad checks. Gallegly's checks were for $3,000 and $105.

Gallegly, who said the overdrafts were "an honest mistake," learned of them when he asked the bank for a letter stating that his record was clean. He called for full disclosure earlier this week.

None of the House bank overdrafts cost taxpayers. Bad checks were covered by the deposits of other lawmakers. The bank did not provide interest on accounts. Personnel costs to administer the bank were more than $700,000 a year, according to the General Accounting Office.


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