Rep. Tennyson Guyer (R-Ohio) made several attempts to arrange an appointment between then-President Ford and recently indicted, Korean-born businessman Hancho C. Kim, but each time was turned down by the National Security Council, two of Ford's congressional liaison aides said yesterday.
At least once, in June, 1975, Kim was scheduled to meet the President with Guyer and other members of Congress and their friends, a Ford spokesman said yesterday from Rancho Mirage, Calif. But that meeting never came off, "probably because the NSC opposed it," the spokesman said.
Vernon C. Loen, a House lobbyist for the Ford White House, said in a telephone interview that Guyer asked him at least three times in 1975-76 to try to arrange such an appointment.
"My job was to get votes for President Ford," Loen said. "And when I'd approach Tenny he'd say, 'Sure I'll support the President on this veto override.' Then he'd say, 'I have this friend who's a big supporter of a college in my district and it sure would be nice if he could get in to see the President.'"
Guyer was reported to be traveling in his district and could not be reached for comment last night. He has previously said that he has known Kim for several years, but had never taken any favors from him.
Kim, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was indicted in September on charges he was part of a South Korean government-sponsored conspiracy to bride members of Congress. The indictment said he received $600,000 in cash from the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in 1974 and 1975 for the purpose of "corruptly influencing" U.S. officials.
Loen emphasized that he never heard Guyer "advance the cause of Korea" while making the requests for a Kim audience with Ford. "As far as I know, he [Guyer] was just trying to take care of a constituent."
During the time Kim was seeking an appointment with Ford he was allegedly sending Telex messages from his home in Lanham, Md., to KCIA headquarters in Seoul.
Loen and Max Friedersdorf, Ford's chief congressional lobbyist, both said yesterday that the requests from Guyer were forwarded to the President's scheduling office and then, because Kim was foreign-born, to the NSC. "Each time they [NSC officials] objected," Friedersdorf said. He said he didn't know why.
An NSC spokesman said yesterday that he was unaware of any national security reasons for rejecting a Kim appointment with Ford. He pointed out that Presidents usually have time only to see high-ranking foreign visitors.
The indictment against Kim charges that as part of the conspiracy to influence U.S. policy he entertained members of Congress, made a $10,000 donation to Findley College and wrote letters to an executive branch official.
The congressmen have since been identified as Guyer and former Rep. Vernon Thomson (R-Wis.).The executive branch official to whom Kim wrote the letters was identified yesterday by sources familiar with the investigation as Ford.
Guyer and Kim are graduates of Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio, Guyer's hometown.
Loen said that he recalls receiving a letter from Kim to the President while he served at the White House. "Guyer told me it was coming," he said. "I think I sent it over to the National Security Council."
Both Loen and Friedersdorf said they had been questioned about Guyer's efforts on Kim's behalf by the FBI, butnot by a grand jury or representatives of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which is conducting a separate inquiry into members' ethical conduct.
The names of Ford, Friedersdorf, Loen and several other public officials are contained in motions filed by Kim's defense attorney, David Povich, in an effort to get the criminal indictments dismissed.
In a request for production of documents, Povich asked that he be provided with grand jury testimony from individuals who had told the government about money transferred to or received from Kim.
Included in the names Povich mentioned were Ford, Friedersdorf, Loen, Thomson, Guyer and Brent Scowcroft, a former national security affairs adviser to Ford.
Povich said he didn't mean to imply by the request that any of those named got money from Kim. "I'm looking for evidence to prove the opposite, that my client didn't give anyone any money," he said.
Justice Department officials confirmed that they had no evidence that the former President or any of the White House officials named by Povich received any money from Kim. "He's fishing" for evidence, one knowledgeable Justice official said.