The head of the General Services Administration said yesterday that he has found no reason that a high-ranking GSA official should dissociate himself from a private, tax-exempt organization that has raised about $175,000 from private contributors to fight "waste and fraud" in the federal government.
But Gerald P. Carmen, the GSA administrator, said he has also asked the president's council on integrity and efficency to examine the case "to reassure me that there is no impropriety in this situation."
Carmen issued the statement yesterday in connection with William A. Clinkscales, whom he recently named a special assistant to develop programs to combat waste, fraud and abuse in the often scandal-ridden agency. Clinkscales is one of the founders and currently the president of the National Taxpayers Investigative Fund, which in the last year has received about $175,000 from $15,000 contributors as a result of a direct-mail fund-raising effort.
Although fund-raising letters spoke of NTIF as "working fulltime to uncover waste and fraud in the bloated bureaucracy in Washington," the organization consists of a rented office near Capitol Hill and one employe who does clerical work.
Clinkscales and NTIF's other founders and directors -- Mark Tapscott and Louis C. Gasper -- have explained this by saying that most of the $175,000 has been eaten up by direct-mail fund-raising costs, which they say is normal when an organization is just getting started. They have promised a more extensive effort to combat waste and fraud once they raise more funds.
NTIF was formed in July, 1980, and although it is officially nonpartisan it has strong links to President Reagan and to Republican politics. Tapscott NTIF's first president, was a campaign aide to Reagan and is now public affairs director at the Republican National Committee. Gasper is a Republican staff aide on the Senate Finance Committee.
During the 1980 campaign, Reagan several times delivered a standard speech in which he promised to place people like Clinkscales in positions where they could ferret out government waste and fraud.
Last fall, while Reagan was mentioning Clink scales in campaign speeches. NTIF sent out its first fund-raising letters. Signed by Clinkscales, the letters said Clinkscales had been moved to a lesser job at GSA because of his anti-corruption efforts and asked for contributions to combat "the scandal that's bigger than Watergate."
A second round of letters, mailed this spring, sought to tie NTIF directly to President Reagan. "The liberals in the Congress were plotting to block Ronald Reagan's attempts to cut out wasteful government spending," the letters said."You and I must stand by Ronald Reagan against the big spending liberals."
Tapscott has said he received $200 a month for several months as a "directors' fee" from NTIF. The others have said they received nothing except reimbursements for expenses.
However, none of the NTIF directors could explain fully yesterday a listing for payments of $2,700 in directors' fees that is contained in an unaudited financial statement of the organization dated last Jan. 31.