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Trial-like ethics hearing looms for Durenberger

The Senate ethics committee has found "substantial credible evidence" that Sen. Dave Durenberger may have violated Senate ethics rules in connection with a book publishing deal and acceptance of limousine service from outside groups while traveling on personal business. As a result of Thursday's findings, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics will move to the trial-like phase of its investigation into a series of charges that Durenberger profited improperly from dealings with special interest groups during the past five years, the panel's leaders announced.

Unless Durenberger, R-Minn., reaches an agreement with the committee on how to settle the charges, the next step will be public hearings, which are not likely to begin before mid-March.

"It was never my intent to circumvent Senate rules for my own benefit," Durenberger said in a statement issued after the committee's action.

If he is found to have violated the rules, he could receive anything from a relatively mild rebuke to censure, loss of seniority or expulsion.