Deaver Makes B-1 Pitch; Question of Ethics Raised
Budget Director James C. Miller III today said President Reagan’s close friend, Michael K. Deaver, now a high-priced lobbyist, met with him to “make a standard pitch” for selling more B-1 bombers to the government.
The recent Deaver-Miller meeting raised the possibility of an ethics violation because senior government officials are forbidden from lobbying their former department or agency for a year.
But Miller, who met reporters before addressing the Economic Club of Detroit, said he checked with his lawyer, who in turn talked with the White House counsel beforehand, to make sure there were no violations.
The budget chief said that as he understood the regulations enacted during the Carter Administration, Deaver could not talk with anyone on the White House staff but that did not include the Office of Management and Budget. The office is located in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.
“Pursuant to the rules I would not discuss his visit with anyone in the West Wing (of the White House),” Miller said.
In Santa Barbara, Calif., White House spokesman Larry Speakes said, “It would appear there was no violation of the one-year prohibition. The OMB director does not work in the White House and Mr. Deaver did not ever deal with this issue in the past.”
Speakes said no legal review was conducted because “to the best of our knowledge, it was felt that one was not needed.”
Miller said he held a “very routine” 15- to 20-minute meeting with Deaver.
Deaver, acting on behalf of one of his clients, Rockwell International Corp., “just made a standard pitch for the B-1 bomber,” Miller said.
He quoted Deaver as saying if the Administration wanted to reduce defense costs it should consider more B-1s in place of such weapons as the secret Stealth bomber, which is touted as being all but invisible to enemy radar.
Rockwell has offered to build 48 more of the bombers at a unit cost of $195 million after the initial order of 100 is completed in 1988. So far, the government is sticking with its decision not to order additional B-1s.
Miller said he did not recall that Deaver recommended the Stealth bomber be dropped, “but he did say one of the competitors is Stealth.”