A three-judge panel authorized independent counsel James C. McKay yesterday to investigate whether dealings by Attorney General Edwin Meese III with Wedtech Corp. violated federal conflict-of-interest laws.
The Special Division of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here issued the order to clarify McKay's jurisdiction to investigate Meese's involvement in Wedtech's efforts to obtain a $32 million defense contract and his subsequent financial dealings with a company director.
The court, which supervises the work of independent counsels, said it issued the order in response to requests by Deputy Attorney General Arnold I. Burns and McKay to "define the investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction" of the independent counsel in the Meese case.
The order formalizes Burns' letter May 11 referring the Meese case to McKay, who was already investigating lobbying by former White House aide Lyn Nofziger for Wedtech.
Under the independent counsel statute, Burns' referral of the Meese case constituted a legal expansion of McKay's original mandate to investigate Nofziger.
Nofziger was indicted last month on charges that he violated federal ethics laws. The former White House political director was accused of lobbying Meese and other former Reagan administration colleagues on behalf of Wedtech and other clients.