Dole’s Release of Financial Papers Leaves Some Questions Unanswered With AM-Political Rdp Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senate Republican leader Bob Dole’s release of a thick stack of financial documents leaves unanswered questions about ties he and his wife have to longtime political ally David Owen.
Dole, R-Kan., a candidate for president, on Saturday released 21 years of tax returns and details from Elizabeth Dole’s blind trust.
The release came after a week of questions about the trust’s dealings with Owen and John Palmer, a former Dole aide, and after Vice President George Bush challenged campaign rivals to disclose details of their personal finances.
The documents show that Owen was involved in extensive business dealings with the trust at the same time he was serving as the trust’s independent financial adviser and while he was contacting Dole’s office on behalf of clients.
Before the ″de-blinding″ of the trust on Friday, the Doles have said they had no knowledge of its transactions. Dole and his spokesmen also say that assistance given to Palmer and Owen by the senator’s office was proper and was of the type rendered to any other constituent.
The trust was set up in January 1985 to insulate Mrs. Dole from conflicts of interest when she became secretary of Transportation. The documents show that the trust’s net worth increased from $1.24 million, when it was formed, to $1.67 million on Friday, a 35 percent gain over three years.
Mark L. McConaghy, a former Dole aide who is now an attorney with the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse, was named its trustee. Owen, a banker and former lieutenant governor of Kansas, served as financial adviser to the trust from its inception to Oct. 1, 1987.
After it was disclosed that the Office of Government Ethics was investigating his dealings with the trust, Owen on Thursday said he had decided to ″temporarily suspend″ his activities as financial co-director of Dole’s presidential campaign.
Questions have focused in particular on Owen’s role in the purchase by the trust of an office building in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.
The trust, according to the documents, bought the building in January 1986 for $1.35 million, financing the purchase with a $1 million mortgage from the American Investors Life Insurance Co.
According to published reports, Owen has served on the insurance company’s board. Also, Knight-Ridder has reported that Owen brokered the purchase, earning a $139,000 commission.
In December 1986, the trust sold a half interest in the building to EDP Enterprises Inc. for $804,000, earning a $63,182 gain on the sale. EDP is owned by Palmer.
Dole, in a statement Saturday, acknowleged his office tried for more than a year to help Palmer, a black businessman, compete for government contracts under the Small Business Administration’s minority setaside program.
Early in 1986, Palmer, through the SBA program, was awarded a $26 million, three-year, no-bid contract to supply food services to Army mess halls at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
″While we did help him establish contact with the SBA, as we would for any constituent, he later secured the contract through his own efforts,″ Dole said.
Walt Riker, a spokesman for Dole’s Senate office, acknowledged Saturday that Dole’s office made calls at Owen’s urging regarding another Army contract. An Owen client, Darol Rodrock, was attempting to retain a contract to provide off-base housing for 260 officers at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Riker said Owen told a Dole aide that another member of Congress was promoting someone else for the contract and that the aide called Fort Leavenworth.
″We simply underscored to the Army that whatever happens, the bidding process should be competitive. No names were mentioned and no one person was promoted,″ Riker said.
Owen and Palmer have close ties. Owen has acknowledged serving as a consultant to Palmer’s company and helping to set up financing for it. A company owned by Owen, Eagle Distributors Inc., is a main supplier to EDP for the Army contract.
The Small Business Administration is investigating EDP to determine if it is a minority business controlled or heavily influenced by white businessmen.
After EDP acquired the half interest in the Overland Park building, it and the trust then transferred title to the College Park Two Building Partnership, which manages the building. Each has a 50 percent equity interest in the partnership, the trust documents said.
According to The Boston Globe, Owen’s business address and the address of the partnership are the same, and tenants report delivering rent checks to Owen’s office.
Among the other trust investments linked to Owen are:
-120 acres of farmland in Johnson County, Kan. According to Knight-Ridder, the land was sold by Owen for an undisclosed price. The trust documents do not say when it was purchased, from whom or for what price. They list a current value for the land of $270,000.
-A $250,000 loan to Golfun Productions Inc., a company set up by Owen to produce a television show about golf. The documents show that the loan was originated by Mrs. Dole in February 1984. It was transferred 11 months later to the trust, when the trust was established. The trust’s federal income tax returns indicate Golfun paid no interest on the loan in 1985 and paid $55,575 interest in 1986.
These questions remain unanswered by the documents released by Dole:
-What was Owen’s role in the January 1986 sale of the Overland Park building to the trust? What, if any, commission did he earn on the sale?
-What is his relationship to the College Park partnership that now controls the office building?
-What gain or loss did Owen realize from the sale of his farmland to the trust?
-How did Owen use the money loaned to Golfun and when did he repay it?
Dale Tate, a spokeswoman for the Dole campaign, said those questions would have to be answered by Owen. Bill Hoch, a spokesman for Owen, said Sunday that Owen was still reviewing the documents released by Dole and likely would make a statement or hold a news conference in the next several days.
″It is his utmost desire to resolve any questions that may remain,″ Hoch said, adding that Owen believes his business dealings with the trust have been ″totally proper.″
A larger question yet to be addressed by the Doles is: Why were close associates chosen to manage the trust when the nature of a blind trust implies limited contact between the owners of the assets and the people making decisions about those assets?