1993 : U.S. Senator Donald Riegle, Jr. Announces Upcoming Resignation

September 29, 2023 all-day

Wounded by his involvement in the Keating savings-and-loan scandal, Senator Donald W. Riegle Jr., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced today that he would retire next year rather than seek a fourth term.

The Michigan Democrat, who had $1 million on hand for his re-election campaign, was one of five Senators accused of performing favors for Charles H. Keating, a major political contributor who owned Lincoln Savings and Loan.

The 55-year-old Senator cited family responsibilities, including two daughters ages 8 and 20 months, who would “require more of my time and effort now and in the future.” Rebuked by Senate

Although the Senator said he was confident of victory, many political observers here and in Michigan believe that he had been damaged by his involvement with Mr. Keating, who was convicted last January on charges of racketeering and fraud and was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison.

Specifically, Mr. Riegle was accused of intervening to protect Mr. Keating from Federal regulators.

The Senate Ethics Committee investigation of the Keating case showed how influential legislators had contributed to the savings and loan crisis. In the end, the five Senators received a mild rebuke, but senators decided no further punishment was warranted. The committee found that Mr. Riegle’s conduct “gave the appearance of being improper and was certainly attended with insensitivity and poor judgment,” but it did not recommend that the Senate discipline him.

After the investigation, Mr. Riegle lost prestige in the chamber and was sometimes unable to control the Banking Committee. And politically, the case transformed him from an expected easy victor in a re-election campaign to a man fighting for survival.

Mr. Riegle was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1966 at the age of 28 as a Republican, but switched parties in 1973 and was first elected to the Senate in 1976. He earned a reputation as a maverick who was both brash and ambitious. He announced as a House freshman that he would run for the Presidency in 15 years, a prophecy that failed to materialize.


Donald Riegle wikipedia entry

Martin Tolchin, “Michigan Senator in Savings Scandal Will Retire“, New York Times, September 29, 1993.

Emily Lawler, “Deaths, drugs and skullduggery: A brief history of Michigan political scandals“, MLive, August 21, 2015; Updated August 24, 2015.

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