Rep. Daniel J. Flood (D-Pa.) sought assurances in 1973 that the Agency for International Development would continue funding a foundation whose director later allegedly gave Flood $59,000 for his assistance.
Flood's concern for the welfare of the foundation was communicated to AID by another powerful member of the House, former Rep. Otto Passman (D-La.), according to one of several documents released by the government yesterday.
The documents also show that some AID officials criticized various aspects of the relationship between their agency and the Airlie Foundation of Warrenton, Va. One suggested that Airlie was "exorbitantly expensive." Elsewhere it was noted that, while Airlie film-making contracts were let on a noncompetitive basis, "any of two dozen commercial filmmakers" could have rendered equal or better service.
Despite the criticism, AID continued awarding contracts to Airlie -- including one for $2 million last week.
Flood is one of the subjects in a spreading federal investigation into Congressional influence-peddling. The FBI this week began looking into at least $16.6 million in AID contracts awarded to Airlie Foundation and to a George Washington University Medical Center group associated with Airlie.
The AID documents released yesterday indicate that Passman, acting at the urging of Flood, sought assurances from AID officials that the Airlie contracts would be continued. Former AID administrator John A. Hannah, in a letter on June 25, 1973, wrote Passman. "You can assure Congressman about that all of these projects will be lunded through to their conclusion.
At the time, Passman was chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, which controls AID's budget.[WORD ILLEGIBLE] an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles Dec. 6, Stephen Elko, a former Flood aide, said Airlie Foundation's director. Dr. Murdock Head, was the source of $87,000 in payments between 1971 and 1973 to Flood, Passman and Elko.
Flood Passman and Head have all denied that any such payments were made.
In other developments yesterday:
A former senior AID official asserted that Passman delayed approving funds for Harvard University to increase pressure on AID to approve the Airlie-George Washington University contracts.
The Philadelphia Inquirer said in a copyrighted story that Flood pressured the Army and Air Force to heat West German installations with anthracite coal supplied by a company in Flood's Pennsylvania district. The company's president recently paid $15,000 in legal fees incurred by Elko, Flood's former administrative aide.
Elko turned state's evidence after he was sentenced to three years in prison for taking payoffs. He is a key witness in the investigation of Flood and another Pennsylvania Democrat, Rep. Joshua Eilberg.
The AID documents, released yesterday under a freedom of information request, show that Harold A. Kieffer, a former senior AID official, repeatedly complained to superiors about the way the Airlie contracts had been handled.
A 1974 memo from Kieffer to AID assistant administrator John A. Murphy started that Murphy himself had outlined congressional pressures on his agency in behalf of the contracts.
"As you have related to me," Kieffer wrote, "a powerful congressman has directly and secretly demanded that you arrange for AID to make a large grant from this year's scarce funds to finance the GWU-Airlie proposal."
Kieffer said the congressman's demands were couched "in coercive terms that relate directly to his potential and strategic role in arranging possible increases or decreases" in AID programs.
Kieffer urged his superiors not to bend to the pressure. "There may be retaliation," he wrote, "but it does not matter who the Congressman is or what his power over us may be. Some things are just wrong and his coercion and demands in this case are wrong."
Kieffer, who resigned in 1975, said in a telephone interview he was referring to Passman in the documents. Despite his objections, the project was ordered funded by Murphy.
In the AID case, Kieffer asserted in a telephone interview from Los Angeles yesterday that in 1974 Passman had become so "piqued" with the agency's slowness in approving a $3 million population study grant to Airlie that he retaliated by delaying funds to Harvard University's population center. At the same time that Airlie and George Washington University sought to start a population information center, Harvard already was operating an AID-financed six-year program on population economics, sociology and policy.
When, in 1974, AID advised Passman's office that the Harvard program would be extended, the sub-committee chairman "made menacing comments that he'd hold hearings," according to Kieffer, and wanted to know why AID was approving funds to Harvard but delaying the Airlie-GWU proposal. For several months the funds to Harvard were held up, he said.
The suspension of funding was confirmed yesterday by sources familiar with the Harvard program who said that Harvard had been "socked" by Passman.
Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer printed new allegations about Flood's activities in Congress.
The paper said that the Army and Air Force may have spent tens of millions of dollars more than necessary over the last 17 years to heat bases in West Germany largely because of Flood's pressure on the armed forces to buy anthracite coal from a company in the congressman's district. Flood is a senior member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
The largest single supplier of this anthracite is Jeddo-Highland Coal Co., of Pittston. The company is headed by James J. Tedesco, who is awaiting sentencing on a conviction for fixing coal prices.
The paper said that Tedesco paid $15,000 for the legal defense of Flood's top aide Elko in a federal bribery case. Elko, according to a sworn affadavit, told investigators that $100,000 had been channeled to Flood for congressional favors.