Attorney General Edwin Meese III's lawyer said yesterday that he does not know when Meese will reveal his investments held in a "limited blind partnership" administered by San Francisco businessman W. Franklyn Chinn -- a former director of the Wedtech Corp., the scandal-plagued Bronx defense contractor.
On Tuesday, the Office of Government Ethics said that Meese failed to comply with federal ethics regulations when, shortly after becoming attorney general in 1985, he sold his stock holdings and invested about $60,000 with Chinn.
Meese and Chinn are both under investigation by independent counsel James C. McKay for their actions in connection with Wedtech.
Meese has acknowledged interceding on Wedtech's behalf in 1982 when he was White House counselor and the company was seeking a $32 million government contract. The company received the contract later that year.
Donald Campbell, deputy director of the Office of Government Ethics, said yesterday that Meese has been obligated to disclose the assets in the trust. But he said his office does not plan to pursue the matter immediately because it is under investigation by McKay. "Our office has backed off until McKay says to go forward. We're on hold," he said.
Campbell said that Meese's failure to list the investments from the Chinn trust is not necessarily a violation of federal law. "In 60 percent to 80 percent of the cases we review, we have to ask additional questions," Campbell said. "The situation here is no different. He'll have to go back and tell us what's in it."
Asked when the information would be disclosed, Meese's lawyer, Nathan Lewin said, "I can't give you an immediate answer. It's something we're considering."
Justice Department spokesman Terry H. Eastland added, "The attorney general is certainly interested in complying with whatever is necessary."
Campbell said that eventually Meese will have to disclose the trust's assets, along with income from each investment, and make a complete accounting of any trading that occurred.
Meese's 1986 disclosure, which was due May 15 and is expected to be released Monday, should contain an accounting of the trust activities for last year. Meese's lawyers said the trust was formally liquidated on Tuesday.