University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

See below for collection citation and reference information.

I.C.14. Issue Files -- House Administration, 1985-1992

+ Series I.C.14. -- Scope and Content Note
+ Series I.C.14. -- Contents List

Extent: 1 linear ft.

Box: 44

Contents: Correspondence, bills, articles, memoranda, research notes, background information, and various reports, including CRS reports, DSG Fact Sheets, and PAC reports.

Arrangement: Alphabetically by topic.


The House Administration subseries of Congressman Carper's papers contains documentation on Campaign Finance Reform, Ethics, Tax Reform, and Term Limits. There is also a section dealing with general issues, primarily congressional pay issues, franking reform, the House Bank Investigation, and the National Voter Registration Act of 1989 (H.R. 2190). Carper protested congressional pay raises in 1989 saying that a sitting Congress should not vote itself a pay increase, especially one that was higher than other federal employees. Carper only began to accept a pay raise during his next term, and then he only accepted an amount that was proportionate to the average cost-of-living increase awards given to other federal employees. In fact, throughout the papers is found correspondence to the Office of the Clerk with checks from Carper returning this portion of the pay raise to go towards the national debt.

The "frank" became an issue because members of Congress were using their mailing privileges for campaign purposes and because it was felt that there was a need to curb the amount spent on legitimate mailings. Carper authored legislation in 1990, H.R. 5430, which would have required public disclosure of how much each member of Congress spent on mailings, including a total of number of pieces mailed. H.R. 5430 would have put a limit on congressional franked mailings each year. No floor action was taken on this legislation.

The House Bank came under investigation in 1992 after allegations of check-kiting and violation of laws by both the Bank and members of Congress. Check-kiting takes places when overdrawn checks are written in rapid succession on account after account, building up phantom balances that allow the check kiter either to escape with the non-existent money or to enjoy the benefit of an interest-free loan on the money. A special investigator, retired Federal appellate judge Malcolm Wilkey, was assigned and he subpoenaed all House Bank records for the previous 39 months. Wilkey came under fire for his sweeping actions and his assertion that all House members were in violation and knew the House Bank was violating law. He subpoenaed the records of the 325 current and former lawmakers who wrote penalty-free overdrafts at the bank and additionally requested records of some 170 members who did not have any overdrafts at the bank. Speaker of the House Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) and Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) both criticized Wilkey, saying he had no right to invade a member's privacy or conduct a "fishing expedition" into the private finances of House members until he could provide Congress with specific allegations his investigation had raised. Many House members were privately critical of Foley's leadership style, saying he was too low-key and unwilling to do battle with the Republican White House. Foley defended himself by noting that he demanded changes in the Bank as far back as 1990, but that they were never implemented. Carper answered allegations made by an article in the Wilmington News Journal via correspondence to the newspaper's president. Carper also issued press releases on the scandal, stating his minimal and unknowing involvement. Articles, clippings, and correspondence document the conflict.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1989 would have allowed Americans to automatically register to vote when they received drivers licenses. The bill was passed in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by President Bush.

The Campaign Finance Reform section of this series deals with Congressional attempts to limit the amount a candidate could spend while running for office. Campaign reform was thought necessary because members of Congress spent too much time fundraising, and were in danger of being unduly influenced if their campaigns were subsidized by large Political Action Committees (PACs). These files contain proposals to limit spending and the amount that a single group or person could contribute to any one candidate.

The Ethics files contain information on the ethics trials of Newt Gingrich ( D-Ga.), Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D-Tex), and the denunciation of Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Gingrich and Wright were accused of receiving money from sources not allowed to members of Congress and not reporting outside sources of income. Rollins sent letters to voters denouncing Democrats who voted against drug legislation, while failing to do the same for Republican members. The ethics files also contain information about members of Congress overdrawing from their accounts at the House Bank, and information about the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, which reduced the amounts that members of Congress could receive in earnings and in gifts.

The Term Limits files contains information from the Committee On Limiting Terms (COLT) lobby. COLT lobbied against career members of Congress and urged implementation of term limits. In October of 1984, Carper had introduced an amendment for term limits, H.J.Res. 658, a "joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to provide for a single six-year term of office for the President and Vice President, to provide that no Member of the House of Representatives may serve for more than three four-year terms, to provide that no Senator may serve more than two terms." This was unsuccessful, but Carper was an advocate of term limits, serving only ten years as a representative in the House.

+ Contents List for Series I.C.14. Issue Files--House Administration

+ Return to Index Page for Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers

+ Guide to Other Political Papers at the University of Delaware Library

+ Return to List of Manuscript Finding Aids by Title

citation and reference information:

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

1979 - 1993
(bulk dates 1982 - 1992)

Manuscript Collection Number: 399
Accessioned: Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999
Extent: 84 linear ft. and oversize material
Content: Legislation, correspondence, reports, documents and publications, memoranda, speeches, photographs, audio-visual material, newsletters, news clippings, and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1997 - December 1999 by Rebecca J. Altermatt with assistance from Rob Costello; edited by L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin.

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