Lott Says WorldCom Situation Worrisome

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott on Wednesday described the revelation about WorldCom's accounting problems as both tragic and troubling.

Lott, R-Miss., in a conference call with Mississippi reporters, said WorldCom's violations of auditing principles "have come as a surprise and a disappointment''

"This is bad conduct by human beings. We can't outlaw bad human behavior. We can have a board or people in place to watch out for these kinds of things and avoid this kind of activity in the future,'' Lott said.

He said WorldCom's tribulations are worrisome "because there are a lot of jobs there, particularly in Clinton. That's where the first concern should be... with the employees and stockholders.''

Lott said members of Congress have to give some thought to what is happening in the telecommunications industry and ask if anything can be done.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said WorldCom's actions are "reprehensible.'' He said lawmakers are "dismayed'' and "angered'' after learning that WorldCom disguised $3.8 billion worth of expenses.

Daschle said the revelation will put a bill requiring reforms in the accounting industry on the fast track in the Senate. He told reporters that confidence in the U.S. business community is at stake.