A real estate developer whose family pays for the salary of Attorney General Edwin Meese's wife, Ursula, was granted a $50 million lease renewal on a building the government said risked the health and safety of Justice Department workers.
Thirteen days after obtaining the new lease, the developer and his partners sold the building for $22.6 million more than they had paid for it two years earlier a 60 percent profit, according to District of Columbia land records.The developer, Howard S. Bender, was the principal owner of the building in late 1985 when the Bender Foundation, his family's tax-exempt philanthropy, donated $120,000 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society to hire Ursula Meese at $40,000-a-year for three years, the society's lawyer said.
The lease a renewal at more than three times the previous rent was signed even though the landlord had not cleaned up an air system inspectors said was a health hazard that could explain above-average sickness there, according to government documents.
And the lease was signed even though the easy public access required by another tenant "jeopardizes (Justice's) ability to provide adequate security . . . and increases the opportunity for sabotage and other covert activities," a government document said.
Meese, in Atlanta Thursday to attend a drug conference, was asked by a reporter about the matter but declined to comment.
An attorney for the Meeses denies any wrongdoing on their part in the transactions.