White House counsel Fred F. Fielding said yesterday that he will review transactions in which two of President Reagan's top aides, Edwin Meese III and Michael K. Deaver, got $118,000 in loans in 1981, when they were getting a presidential appointment for the California tax accountant who arranged the loans.
Fielding said his staff checked the arrangement last year and found nothing wrong.
"I want to go back and make sure my staff review was complete and accurate," he said. "At this point I don't have any reason to believe it would be any different than it was earlier."
Another White House official said Fielding often personally reviews available documentation when a question of propriety is raised.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that Meese's financial disclosure form shows two personal loans, totaling $60,000, from John R. McKean, a San Francisco accountant who was nominated for a $10,000-a-year job on the U.S. Postal Service board of governors in November, 1981.
The first loan to Meese, for $40,000, came in July, 1981, when, according to McKean, Deaver asked if he was interested in the Postal Service job. The second loan to Meese, for $20,000, was in December, 1981.
McKean also arranged a $58,000 loan from a business partner to Deaver in October, 1981, so Deaver could buy a tractor-trailer and lease it out to defer some tax payments.
Deaver has been traveling in Asia. Last night, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said he had spoken with Deaver, who he said told him: "The name of McKean was submitted routinely by me, as I have done hundreds of others in the last 2 1/2 years. The submission of the name had nothing to do with the loan transaction."
McKean told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in November, 1981, that Meese and Deaver had submitted his name to the president for the Postal Service board post. He said he does tax work for both men.
Meese continued yesterday to decline to comment on the loans he received. A Meese aide said last week that the money was used for living expenses and school tuition for Meese's children and was not connected to McKean's appointment.
McKean said the loan money didn't come from him, but from clients who didn't know the funds were going to Meese. Speakes said Meese told him the loans were at "pretty stiff interest rates," 21 percent the first year and 18 percent since.
No collateral was required for the loans. They are not due until McKean demands the money. While the interest is to be paid annually, none of the principal has been paid. Fielding said it is his understanding that the interest payments "have been made in timely fashion."
McKean said the loans to Meese were intended to be short-term until he could sell his house in California. Meese sold the house in La Mesa, Calif., in September, 1982, for more than $250,000, according to his disclosure statement. McKean said it is likely that the two loans now will be consolidated and collateralized by Meese's home in McLean.
McKean said he told Meese last year that he should be listed as "trustee" for the loans and did not know why that was not done. Fielding said yesterday that he would check this with Meese.
"If that's the way it should have been, I'm sure he Meese will want to file an amendment" to the disclosure form, Fielding said.
McKean said he has arranged similar loans for other clients on a few occasions.
Robert L. Hardesty, chairman of the Postal Service's board of governors, said yesterday that McKean has been an outstanding member.
Hardesty said he had told White House personnel director E. Pendleton James that the board of the $25 billion-a-year postal service needed "first-class appointees," and that he considered McKean "precisely the kind of person I was talking about."
McKean has been nominated to a full nine-year term on the board.