- The Washington Times - Monday, November 28, 2005


Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. quarreled when he was a Justice Department lawyer with the head of the government ethics office over proposed requirements on personal financial disclosures, according to documents released yesterday.

His 1987 letter was issued around the time that the ethics office said his boss, Attorney General Edwin Meese III, had violated financial-disclosure requirements over a $60,000 investment with a businessman who was tied to Wedtech, a Bronx, N.Y., defense contractor that was part of a wide-ranging federal investigation.

There was no suggestion that Judge Alito, who has been nominated to be a Supreme Court justice, was aware of the ethics office’s issues with Mr. Meese’s disclosure.

The letter to David H. Martin, director of the Office of Government Ethics, was among 120 documents from Judge Alito’s 1985-87 service as the deputy assistant to the attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel that were released by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Associated Press and other news organizations.

Judge Alito became the U.S. attorney for New Jersey after leaving Justice headquarters and then was appointed to the federal bench. President Bush has nominated him to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Some of the material in the newly released documents was blacked out for privacy reasons, and 60 documents were withheld because they contained classified information or confidential exchanges between government lawyers and their clients or for other reasons, said Paul B. Colborn, special counsel in the office where Judge Alito worked.

In his February 1987 letter, Judge Alito faulted Mr. Martin for failing to consult with the Justice Department before publishing proposed regulations on financial disclosures that upper-level government officials must submit annually.

“In this case, the need for such consultation was acute, since we made it abundantly clear to your office … that we had serious legal objections,” he wrote.

The proposal increased the number of federal employees who would have to disclose their finances.

In the same period, the office was reviewing Mr. Meese’s financial report for 1985, which obscured how W. Franklyn Chinn invested the $60,000 Mr. Meese gave him, the ethics office said.

Mr. Chinn, Mr. Meese’s former financial adviser, later was convicted in the Wedtech scandal. Mr. Meese never was charged with any crime.

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