The Small Business Administration helped Wedtech Corp. finance a defense contract only because of interest expressed by a top aide to then-presidential counselor Edwin Meese III, the agency's former No. 2 official testified Friday.
Donald R. Templeman, testifying at former White House aide Lyn Nofziger's conflict-of-interest trial, said SBA officials put aside earlier skepticism and helped Wedtech finance the $32-million contract to build Army engines after inquiries by James E. Jenkins, deputy presidential counselor.
"Frankly we would not have gone along with the contract had it not been for Mr. Jenkins' interest," the SBA's former deputy administrator said.
Templeman said Jenkins called him three or four times in April and May, 1982, to inquire about the progress of negotiations between the SBA and the Army on financing the no-bid contract that had been set aside for minority businesses.
Jenkins expressed his interest in fulfilling President Reagan's 1980 campaign promise to help bring jobs to the South Bronx, the economically devastated New York City neighborhood where Wedtech was located, Templeman said.