Labor Nominee in Trouble?

White House aides "privately admit" that Labor Sec.-designate Alexis Herman's confirmation "has run into trouble." Herman's problem concerns "whether she was involved in overseas political fund-raising" while serving as director of the WH public liaison office. Dems "fear" the confirmation process "could reopen scrutiny" of Ron Brown, Herman's "close friend and political associate." Senate Labor cmte chair Jim Jeffords (R-VT) "had not been expected to be tough" on Herman. But Jeffords recently told Senate GOP leaders he will "scrutinize any involvement" by Herman in "questionable political fund-raising" (Novak, CHICAGO SUN- TIMES, 1/26).

GOP Senators "are particularly interested" in Herman's relationship with ex-DNC finance vice chair John Huang. The WH "leaked" some Asian-American fund-raising documents "to deprive" Senate GOPers of an "ambush" at Herman's hearings. "Now that Herman faces confirmation trouble," Clinton has "turned" to Washington lobbyists Michael Berman and Patrick Griffin "to help shepherd" her nomination (Duffy, TIME, 2/3 issue).

The newly-released WH documents show that Herman sat in on five of the coffee klatches with contributors. Judicial Watch's Larry Klayman said it appears Herman "was the point person at the White House for arranging campaign contributors to go on trade missions" Bedard, W. TIMES, 1/25).

CBS' Braver: "The White House acknowledges it released the documents now because of worry that the operation could become an issue in Herman's confirmation" (1/24).

A report prepared by Herman and Trans. Sec.-designate Rodney Slater "specifically referred to resources available" within the WH "to assist in spreading a positive political message to black voters." WH special counsel Lanny Davis said the report was sent to the Senate Labor cmte. Slater will "face questions" about his role in the campaign during his hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee this week (Bedard, W. TIMES, 1/27).

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