WASHINGTON — Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally's (D-Compton) office brushed off a published report Tuesday that he had interceded with the president of Marxist Angola to help a wealthy Los Angeles supporter nail down a $12-million contract for the sale and shipment of Angolan crude oil.
Dymally, who has boasted of past attempts to help black-owned U.S. firms get business from African and Caribbean governments, was traveling in the Middle East and could not be reached for comment on his efforts to assist Richard G. Griffey, head of Solar Records in Hollywood.
Griffey and his wife gave $1,750 to Dymally's most recent election campaign. Griffey also is reported to be the chief benefactor of the Coalition for a Free Africa, which has paid part of Dymally's travel expenses on recent trips to Nigeria, Brazil and elsewhere.
An article in the Washington Post said that Dymally, a five-term House member known as the staunchest congressional advocate of Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire's strongman-president, was accompanied to Angola by Griffey in October, 1988.
While Dymally later reported to Congress that he had discussed "peace efforts" in Angola and Namibia with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Griffey also met the Angolan leader on that visit.
A month later, the article said, Griffey's firm--African Development Public Interest Corp.--received the $12-million shipment of Angolan oil that had been promised nearly two years before.
Earlier, Griffey was invited by Dymally to join in a June, 1987, meeting in Washington between the congressman and Angola's minister of petroleum and industry, Pedro Van-Dunem.
While the minister wanted to enlist Dymally's help in blocking efforts in Congress to impose an embargo against Angola, Griffey complained to him of delays in the shipment of oil that Angola had agreed to sell to his firm.
Dymally supported Griffey's position, the Post reported, but the story quoted the Los Angeles business executive as saying that Dymally did not demand a \o7 quid pro quo\f7 for opposing the proposed embargo.
In a statement issued by his office, Dymally did not challenge the account but said that the reporter who wrote the article "spent four months trying to prove that I tried to help African-American businessmen, minorities and women gain a foothold in Africa."
Dymally said that as far as he knows, "The Department of State is pleased with my work in Africa, and more than 30 million African Americans will benefit when we are able to do business with Africa."
Griffey, who has been trying to do business with African countries for nearly a decade, founded the Coalition for a Free Africa in 1986. Dymally is on its board of advisers.
Dymally has acknowledged that he wrote a letter to the president of Uganda in 1988 to try to get another friend and political supporter a contract for handling U.S. food shipments to Uganda.
He defended his strongly worded letter on behalf of Mamadi Diane, however, as proper for a black member of Congress in advocating the interests of a black-owned American firm. Diane, a native of Guinea who is head of the Zaire-American Research Institute, has accompanied Dymally on trips to Zaire and acted as his interpreter there.
Dymally has reported that the government of Zaire has paid for his airline tickets and hotel expenses within Africa and even a three-day stay on the French Riviera for a visit with the vacationing Mobutu.
A recent report by Dymally's campaign fund shows that he picked up a $629 dinner tab at an expensive Chinese restaurant in Washington to entertain a visiting delegation from Angola last April.