Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige apparently earned more than any other member of President Reagan's Cabinet last year, between $1.6 million and $2 million, government documents showed yesterday.
The required financial disclosure form for Baldrige, former head of Scovill Inc., showed that most of his 1981 income came from "incentive and severance pay" from Scovill, a diversified manufacturing company. It included 35 other investments and transactions unrelated to Scovill. Baldrige also reported between $680,000 and $950,000 in debts.
The biggest single ingredient of income for Baldrige was a $1,175,145 incentive and severance payment from Scovill, he reported.
The disclosure statement revealed that Baldrige converted most, if not all, of his Scovill holdings and other common stock into tax-exempt municipal bonds shortly after his swearing-in.
The next highest earner in the Cabinet appeared to be Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan, former chairman of Merrill Lynch, who earlier had listed at least $715,455 in 1981 income.
Apparently next was Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, formerly vice president and general counsel of Bechtel Corp. who reported earning at least $676,421.
The broad ranges permitted for the income categories make determinations of ranking speculative at best. But the figures show that President Reagan has assembled one of the richest Cabinets of any recent administration.
Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr., former head of United Technologies, has not yet made his disclosure form public.
Agriculture Secretary John R. Block, a millionaire hog farmer, earned between $112,000 and $216,000.
Interior Secretary James G. Watt, Health and Human Services Secretary Richard S. Schweiker, Education Secretary Terrel H. Bell and Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis--among Cabinet members who did not head large companies--reported comparatively modest amounts of 1981 income under $100,000.
Watt in 1981 received $12,000 in severance pay from the Mountain States legal foundation he once headed, according to his statement, which said the pay, received after he became interior secretary, had been approved by the Office of Government Ethics and the General Accounting Office.
Watt's disclosure form listed his gifts as a stuffed fox from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, valued at $200; a $100 rocking chair from the Asheville, N.C., Chamber of Commerce, and a $100 nameplate given by an Anchorage, Alaska, couple.
In addition, Watt listed $2,302 in reimbursements for travel expenses for his wife, paid by the Republican National Committee, so she could accompany him on party fund-raising trips.
Disclosure forms released yesterday also showed that presidential counselor Edwin Meese III received more gifts than three other top-ranked White House officials, national security adviser William P. Clark, White House chief of staff James A. Baker III and deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver.
But Meese's gifts were still almost negligible, including such things as a $150 plaque from the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, and two etchings of Indians valued at $300 to $500.
The disclosure form showed Meese or members of his family with stock holdings in 27 companies, including AT&T, Exxon and Texaco.
Baker established a "qualified blind trust" of more than $250,000 at the time of Reagan's Inauguration that covered much of his income.
He listed his 1980 income from his old Houston law firm of Andrews, Kurth, Campbell and Jones at $109,888. He also said he was the beneficiary of a trust fund, valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.
Baker reported that he neither purchased nor sold anything of measurable value during 1981, and received no gifts or reimbursements.