Over Navy opposition, Reps. William Chappell, D-Fla., and Roy Dyson, D-Md., kept alive $194 million in contracts for the Unisys Corp. while accepting more than $30,000 in campaign contributions from figures linked to the company, according to sources and public records.
Chappell, Dyson and a third member of Congress - Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y. - are drawing scrutiny in the sweeping Pentagon corruption investigation because of their acceptance of contributions from Unisys.A senior Navy official, who requested anonymity, described Chappell and Dyson's intervention in advocating the company's shipboard radar system as "persistent and unusual, all done in the name of servicing their constituents."
Although Navy Secretary John Lehman canceled the electronic detection and weapons guidance system three years ago, Congress has continued to appropriate funds for it. Earlier this year, approval was given to install five of the new Unisys systems on Navy frigates under a $95 million contract, Navy officials said.
Federal law enforcement officials have declined to say whether the Navy's approval of the MK92 Coherent Receiver/Transmitter (CORT) project is an area under scrutiny in the sweeping defense procurement kickback scandal.
However, United Press International has learned that almost $100,000 in congressional campaign contributions since 1985 can be traced to current and former employees or consultants of the Unisys Corp., with more than 40 percent of the money going to Chappell, Dyson and D'Amato.
According to an extensive review of Federal Election Commission records by UPI:
-Chappell, who chairs the House defense appropriations subcommittee, received at least $20,000 in contributions during the last four years from a maze of consultants linked to Unisys, the giant electronics company formerly known as Sperry Corp. Chappell said in a telephone interview Wednesday he was unaware of most of the donations and was "very much offended" at the suggestion that someone may have backed his campaign to gain influence on a defense program.
-Dyson, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, received at least $14,500 in contributions from many of the same donors between 1985 and 1987, including $10,000 last year.
-D'Amato, a member of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, received $8,700 in campaign contributions in 1985 and 1986 from many of the same individuals. Ed Martin, D'Amato's executive assistant, said he was not aware of any improper contributions.
All told, the individual contributions from figures linked to Sperry and Unisys totaled at least $96,050, according to FEC records.
The records show Sperry and Unisys political action committees gave another $115,310 to members of Congress during the four years in question.