A former Commerce Department official said today he was fired in 1983 by then-White House counselor Edwin Meese III after forcing defense contractor Wedtech Corp. to repay $3.2 million in delinquent loans.
Carlos Campbell, former assistant secretary in the Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration, said his removal came in part because he resisted pressure from former White House political director Lyn Nofziger and Nofziger's lobbying partner, Mark Bragg, to "rubber-stamp" a plan to assist the now-scandal-plagued firm four years ago.
Through their lawyers, now-Atty. Gen. Meese, Nofziger and Bragg all denied Campbell's claims.
Campbell, who left the EDA amid allegations that he had awarded grants to friends' businesses, is one of several Reagan Administration officials who were pushed out of their jobs shortly after impeding various forms of federal assistance to Wedtech.
"The Wedtech proceedings had much to do with Meese removing me as assistant secretary," Campbell said in an interview. "I was sent in there to collect bad debts and protect the government's interests. That's what I tried to do with Wedtech and I was the one who paid for it."
The attorney general "used complaints about me from Congress as a smoke screen to remove me on trumped-up charges," Campbell asserted.
"Meese knew about the Wedtech proceedings and he wanted me out of there in part because I had refused to roll over for Bragg and Nofziger. They wanted a soft deal. I gave them a hard deal."