Witness Says Nofziger Contacted Meese About Airplane
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former presidential aide Lyn Nofziger contacted then-presidential counselor Edwin Meese III and other White House officials about the A-10 aircraft in 1982, a defense witness testified Friday at Nofziger’s illegal-lobbying trial.
Stanton D. Anderson, a lawyer who represented both Nofziger’s consulting firm and the A-10′s manufacturer, Fairchild Republic Corp., said Nofziger was retained for his political advice because ″the airplane was somewhat controversial.″
″There was a lot of resistance in the Air Force as well as areas of Congress to continued funding,″ Anderson said.
The defense called Anderson to suggest that Nofziger didn’t break the law because he acted with the blessing of his attorney.
Anderson said Nofziger contacted both Thomas Reed, a National Security Council official, and Meese. ″We may have asked him to make one or two additional contacts on our behalf,″ he said.
″We tried to generate interest at the White House to influence the Pentagon to make the right decision,″ Anderson said.
Meese, now attorney general, testified that he wrote an April 1, 1982, memo to top State Department and Defense Department officials urging continued production of the A-10.
Anderson said he accompanied Nofziger to a Sept. 24, 1982, meeting with National Security Council officials that prosecutors charge violated the ethics-law restrictions on lobbying by former government officials.
Nofziger is charged with illegally lobbying former White House colleagues on behalf of Fairchild, Wedtech Corp. and a marine engineers union.
U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Flannery refused to allow the defense to ask Anderson about advice he gave Nofziger on the propriety of his lobbying at the White House, saying that advice of counsel was no defense.
Anderson said was disappointed that Nofziger was unable to arrange a meeting with then-national security adviser William P. Clark. The two met instead on Sept. 24, 1982, with Richard Levine and Horace Russell, who were members of Clark’s staff.
The lawyer confirmed that Nofziger urged Reagan to keep a promise to a New York congressman about continuing production of the A-10.
Nofziger had argued that failure to intervene with the Pentagon ″could be perceived as the president not living up to his commitments,″ Anderson recalled.
In return for support on a tax hike, Reagan signed a directive that the Pentagon find a way to keep the A-10 production line going even though Congress had deleted the plane from the budget. Fairchild eventually received so-called long-lead funds of $50 million to keep making the plane for several months.
Anderson also supported the defense’s contention that the A-10 was not of ″direct and substantial interest″ to the White House, an element prosecutors must prove to convict Nofziger.
″It was not an issue they were really interested in,″ he saidpolitical person and I wanted to get his advice,″ said Anderson.
Nofziger’s former secretary, meanwhile, strongly asserted that she didn’t type a letter prosecutors say the former presidential aide sent to the White House on behalf of Wedtech Corp. The defense is trying to suggest former Wedtech lobbyist Stephen Denlinger typed the letter and signed Nofziger’s name.
Nancy Guiden testified that she would have typed a date on the undated letter prosecutors say Nofziger sent to deputy presidential aide James Jenkins. Guiden, like other witnesses, testified she couldn’t identify Nofziger’s signature on the document.
The undated letter, which a White House receipt stamp shows was delivered on May 28, 1982, is the basis of a charge that Nofziger illegally lobbied Jenkins about Wedtech’s trouble getting a defense contract.
″Anybody could have sat down and typed LN/NG,″ Guiden said of the notation at the bottom of the letter.
Denlinger said Nofziger’s partner Mark A. Bragg, who is charged with aiding and abetting the contact, suggested the letter be sent to Jenkins and signed by Nofziger.