WASHINGTON -- A former Carter administration official is reviving allegations that George Bush, then Ronald Reagan's running mate in the 1980 presidential campaign, may have been involved in secret negotiations to delay the release of the American hostages being held in Iran until after the election that Jimmy Carter lost to Reagan.
In a column printed yesterday on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, former National Security Council staff member Gary Sick wrote that he had uncovered new and credible accounts, from a variety of participants and other sources, of a secret deal between Tehran and members of Reagan's election campaign to stall the release of the hostages in return for promises of arms sales to Iran.
Sick wrote that the alleged deal, the purpose of which was to keep Carter from benefiting from a hostage release before the election, was worked out in a series of secret meetings in 1980 and involved a senior Iranian official and the late William J. Casey, Reagan's campaign chairman and later Central Intelligence Agency director.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said yesterday that "there's just nothing to it."
Reagan's office in Los Angeles had no immediate comment.