Attorney General Edwin Meese III reaped nearly $40,000 in profits on speculative stock investments of $54,500 in just 19 months, his lawyers said Monday. According to his lawyers, however, Mr. Meese's money was not funneled into scandal-plagued Wedtech Corporation, a Bronx-based defense contractor.
The attorney general's profits, minus more than $5,200 in fees to his investment manager, Franklyn Chinn, were disclosed Monday as Meese's lawyers attempted to quell some of the controversy surrounding their client's involvement with Wedtech.
Mr. Chinn, a San Francisco businessman, was a Wedtech consultant and member of the board of directors until February of this year, when he was forced to resign. He is under criminal investigation in connection with the company.
Chinn invested Meese's money in a variety of large and small companies in 23 trades beginning in July 1985, and in each instance, bought and sold the stock on the same day, according to Meese attorneys. When it wasn't tied up in one-day speculative ventures, the money was building up what amounted to $6,000 in interest in money market and brokerage accounts.
Meese, under fire since last April to disclose where his investment manager channeled the money, has acknowledged interceding on behalf of Wedtech when he was White House counselor in 1982. The company at the time was seeking a $32 million no-bid Pentagon contract, which it ultimately won.
The attorneys' report says that the attorney general's investment with Chinn ``was inadvertently omitted'' from a list of assets he filed with Justice Department officials in May 1985. The partnership with Chinn wasn't disclosed until more than a year later.
A spokesman for the attorney general said that under the terms of the arrangement, Meese didn't know where Chinn was investing his money and didn't know that he was engaging in one-day trading.
``This response is better late than never, but it raises as many questions as it provides answers,'' said Sen. Carl Levin, (D) of Michigan, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on oversight of government management. The committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on Meese's financial disclosure.