Former White House aide Lyn Nofziger, charged with illegal lobbying, has launched a fresh attack on the independent counsel law, telling a federal judge that the statute is unconstitutional and the charges should be dropped.
The challenge by Nofziger, one of 11 motions filed around midnight Friday in U.S. District Court regarding his indictment last month on six conflict-of-interest charges, was the newest in a flurry of legal maneuvering by targets of independent counsel investigations.
In a 33-page motion asking the court to dismiss the charges, Nofziger said the independent counsel provisions of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, providing for court appointment of special prosecutors, violate the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.
"One of the incontrovertible principles of constitutional law is that one branch of government shall not perform the functions of another branch," Nofziger's lawyer, Paul Perito, argued in the motion.
In addition, Nofziger told U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Flannery that the ethics provisions prohibiting contacts by former government officials with their old agencies for a year are suspect, and that the independent prosecutor in his case, James C. McKay, should be disqualified.
Nofziger, the second of President Reagan's inner circle to be indicted, was charged with six counts of illegally lobbying the White House, the Small Business Administration and the Navy on behalf of the scandal-plagued Wedtech Corp. His partner, Mark Bragg, was charged in one count.
Both men pleaded not guilty.
The motions by Nofziger could delay the trial scheduled for Nov. 16. McKay also is investigating Attorney General Edwin Meese III's ties to the New York defense contractor.
Nofziger's legal bid is similar to those launched by another former White House aide, Michael K. Deaver -- the first person indicted under the ethics act -- and Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, the former National Security Council aide fired in the Iran-contra scandal. Both men have charged that the independent counsel provisions of the ethics law are unconstitutional.
Nofziger was the first person indicted under the law for influence-peddling. Deaver faces trial in October on charges he lied about his post-government lobbying, unless the Supreme Court agrees to review his case.
Three challenges have been lodged against Alexia J. Morrison's independent counsel probe of the 1983 Environmental Protection Agency scandal, and two additional secret challenges against independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh also are pending, court records show.