Extent: 1 linear ft.
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.