Transaction By Elizabeth Dole’s Blind Trust
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ A former aide to Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole helped buy an office building from Elizabeth Dole’s blind trust 10 months after his company was awarded a no-bid federal contract, according to a published report.
The report by the Harris News Service on Friday did not say there was anything improper about the transactions, and Dole spokesmen said neither the senator nor Mrs. Dole had any role in them.
The presidential campaign of Vice President George Bush sent reporters copies of the article, which appeared Friday in The Hutchinson Daily News, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The article said Mrs. Dole’s blind trust sold an office building in Overland Park, Kan., to EDP Enterprises and College Park Two Building Partnership in December 1986.
Meanwhile, former Kansas Lt. Gov. Dave Owen, national finance chairman of Dole’s campaign, called the senator’s office last year to intercede for a business associate who was trying to retain more than $1.4 million worth of military contracts, according to a copyright story Sunday in The Kansas City Star.
Owen said he is a $7,000-a-month consultant for Darol Rodrock, who provides the Army housing for more than 260 officers at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas
Rodrock was one of four Leavenworth property owners providing the off-base housing, according to the Star. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers terminated leases with the other three last March and extended a lease with Rodrock and his wife.
The Star said that during discussions of the lease extension in early 1987, Federal Election Commission records show Rodrock made a $5,000 contribution to Campaign America, the Dole political action committee that preceded the creation of a Dole presidential organization.
Rodrock also denied that any political influence was used in getting the Army housing business, the newspaper said. Both Rodrock and Owen insisted their consulting arrangement is based on Owen’s business expertise and not his political ties.
The Star said no evidence indicates that Dole’s office did anything to aid Rodrock in getting the contract. ″I’m sure Bob Dole doesn’t know anything about it,″ Owen said in an interview Friday with the Star.
Walt Riker, a spokesman for Dole, said Saturday that the senator’s office was ″reviewing the details″ of Owen’s contacts regarding the Army housing and would not comment until the review is completed.
In the transactions involving Mrs. Dole’s blind trust, EDP had received a three-year, $30 million federal minority business contract in February 1986 to supply food services to Army mess halls at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Harris News Service said. EDP is owned by John Palmer, a field representative in Dole’s Kansas City office in the early 1980s.
The news service did not say that there was anything illegal in the transactions or that the Doles had any connection with the transactions or with granting the food services contract. Nor did the report say Mrs. Dole made any profit on the building.
The news service quoted James Deibel, the contractor who sold the building to Mrs. Dole’s trust, as saying it cost more than $1 million, and said it had obtained other information from public records.
″Bob and Elizabeth Dole obviously had no personal knowledge of this,″ Riker told The Associated Press. ″The system worked as it is supposed to work.″
Dale Tate, a spokeswoman for Dole’s presidential campaign, said neither the senator nor Mrs. Dole, who served as Secretary of Transportation in President Reagan’s cabinet until last year, knew of the transactions.
Tate emphasized that the purpose of Mrs. Dole’s blind trust was to remove her from direct management of her financial assets.
The news service said the transactions involved Palmer and Owen, who was investment adviser for the trust.
Contacted Friday by the AP, Owen said he was bound by rules of confidentialit y not to discuss Mrs. Dole’s blind trust.
″My reaction is that the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are just around the corner, and the Harris newspapers are holding up their long- standing tradition of causing Bob Dole problems,″ Owen said.
″I don’t want to be evasive, but I just can’t discuss the trust. I really just can’t comment on their story,″ he said.
The Harris news service is a wire service run by Harris Enterprises to serve its eight newspapers in Kansas, one in Iowa and one in California. The report on Mrs. Dole’s blind trust appeared in several of those newspapers.
Owen said he served for a time as an investment adviser to the Elizabeth Dole trust, but is no longer associated with it.
Palmer told the news service he is a participant in the Small Business Administration’s minority set-aside program, but refused to comment further.
Mrs. Dole’s trust bought the building on Jan. 20, 1986, the news service said. On Dec. 30, 1986, the trust sold a half-interest in the property to EDP.
Palmer’s company assumed half a mortgage and gave the trust a promissory note for $279,000, then conveyed ownership to College Park Two, which assumed all payments, the news service said, citing warranty deeds.
The other half of the building was bought directly by College Park Two, whose address is at Owen’s office, according to tax records, the news service said. The news service said it could not find out who College Park Two’s partners are.