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Attorney general may face financial probe

The Justice Department is conducting a preliminary inquiry into whether or not to investigate Attorney General William French Smith's finances, congressional sources said.

At issue is Mr. Smith's acceptance of a $50,000 severance fee voted by the board of directors of the Earle M. Jorgensen Company in January 1981, as he left the board to join the administration.

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After he reported it in his financial disclosure statement to the government, Smith announced May 28 he had returned it to the Jorgensen firm.