Richard V. Allen, the feisty foreign policy advisor to Ronald Reagan, is in the hurricane's eye again.
An article in the Wall Street Journal, which Allen yesterday labled "shot through inaccuracies," declares that Allen "wooed Japanese interests while representing [the] U.S." in 1970.
It goes on to declare that "while he was a member of the Nixon administration," Allen revealed secrets from the U.S. Commission on International Trade and Investment Policy, of which he was a member, to a Japanese friend in an effort "to set up big consulting contracts from the Japanese."
Moreover, the article declares, shortly after Allen left government service in 1972, he "demanded a 50 percent cut of a $120,000 contract the lobbyist had landed while Mr. Allen was with the government." Allen dropped the demand, the article said, only after the lobbyist's attorney wrote a blistering memo pointing out that Allen's claim appeared to "involve an assertion by him that while he was working for the United States government, he was also participating in a venture for personal profit which would, of course, have been a violation of federal law."
Allen said yesterday that the article incorrectly leaves the impression he was a paid employe of the government while carrying on personal business ventures behind the scenes.
In fact, he said, that implication is wrong. The commission was an advisory group and its members were unpaid. Its members, himself included, were drawn from private life or business and were carrying on their regular occupations while also serving on the commission. There was not any restriction against them carrying on normal business activities. The information he sent to his Japanese friend was not closely held and was rather freely available at the time to lobbyists and academicians on the Washington scene, he said.
Finally, he said, his claim for half the $120,000 contract obtained by David Fleming from Datsun was based on a trip the two men made to Japan in March or April 1971 when Allen was privately employed and was not on the government payroll.
Fleming yesterday confirmed that at the time of the trip, Allen "definitely was not working for the government," adding, "The facts would not substantiate an allegation of conflict of interest." Both men said the dispute was whether on that trip, Allen had introduced Fleming to Datsun officials and, if so, whether that led to Fleming's obtaining the Datsun contract. Allen claims he did and therefore felt he was entitled to a "finder's fee." Fleming says no; he got it on his own.
Several members of the trade commission, reached by phone yesterday, backed Allen's claim that while commission deliberations were held in private, most of the information quickly got out and was informally available to economists and academicians. "It was not supposed to," said one former staffer, "but it was such a loose arrangement all that stuff Allen reported to his Japanese friend was common knowledge." Kenneth Naden, president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, said commission members often told associates what had gone on, and testimony given in closed session was often released or made available to a number of persons later. Floyd Smith, former president of the International Association of Machinists, said, "I never received a thing that I could recall that anyone said it's a secret or confidential."
This is not the first time Allen has been in the news recently. Last summer, the magazine Mother Jones revealed that in 1972, after he left the government and set up his private consulting firm, Potomac International, after he had left government work, he had been paid $10,000 a month for about six months by Howard Cerny, a lawyer representing Robert Vesco, for consultations on international trade matters. Vesco later fled the country because of charges he bilked investors.
Stories in The Washington Post and other publications later revealed that as a private consultant, Allen had once registered as foreign agent for the overseas companies of Portugal, a group described by some as a front for the former colonialist government of Portugal; that he is a consultant to Datsun's U.S. subsidiary, Nissan U.S.A.; that he was a consultant for several years at $40,000 annually to Tokyo Electric Power, and an occasional consultant to Lockheed and the Industrial Research Institute of Japan.
He also had been accused at a Senate hearing of having asked a Grumman Corp. official during the Nixon administration for a $1 million contribution to President Nixon's campaign fund in return for White House aid in selling Grumman planes to Japan. He denies the accusation and it has never been proved.
Reagan, at the Houston airport, said yesterday that his staff would look into the Wall Street Journal charges but that he is "confident this is going to turn out to be much ado about nothing."