The General Accounting Office has told Congress that $221-a-day consulting fees paid last year to President Reagan's appointees to the board of the Legal Services Corp. did not violate the law.
Some members of Congress had questioned them because the board members were recess appointees who had not been confirmed by the Senate.
The preliminary GAO report, made available yesterday, did not give an opinion on whether the overall size of the fees was appropriate or if the consulting work was adequate.
An accompanying letter from GAO general counsel Milton Socolar said that the GAO is conducting an investigation into "whether any board member submitted false or fraudulent claims for payment, and whether the payments authorized were consistent with the acceptable practice of the Legal Services Corp. and other public corporations."
The GAO was asked last December to examine consultant fees of $156,201 paid to former Legal Services board members for the first 11 months of 1982, more than twice what any previous board received. Board members later attributed the higher expenses to a 15 percent increase in the daily consulting fee and the fact that they worked more hours than their predecessors.
The recess appointments of most members expired in late December when Congress adjourned for the year. During the congressional recess, Reagan named several new members who now also are serving in a recess capacity.
William J. Olson, a Washington lawyer and former chairman of the board, praised the report.
"Liberal members of Congress who attacked us last December were attacking us to divert us from implementing reforms of the Legal Services Corp., including cutting the funding of liberal organizations and bringing the program into line with restrictions enacted by Congress more than a decade ago and never implemented," he said.
Clarence McKee, another former board member, added, "I'm happy about it, of course. I didn't have any doubt about the outcome. We hadn't done anything wrong."
The GAO also was asked by Congress to look into the contract, including a full year's severence pay, provided for corporation President Donald Bogard, by last year's recess board of directors.
The GAO opinion noted that a law passed by Congress after the contract was given to Bogard prohibits such payments and none has been made.
Bogard said through a spokesman, "I am pleased to see that the GAO has concluded that the Legal Services Corp. has acted properly in its board compensation policy."