Labor Nominee on Hot Seat

GOPers said they would "put off" confirmation hearings for Labor Sec.-designate Alexis Herman until she answers written questions about her role in WH political fund-raising. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chair of a House subcmte on banking and financial services, requested the documents in a letter to Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig. Ludwig said he was invited to the 5/13/96 fund-raising meeting by the WH Office of Public Liaison, then headed by Herman. WH Press Sec. Mike McCurry denied Herman's nomination was in trouble because of her activities at the Liaison office: "That office was not used as a political office. The president has strong support for the excellent nominee he's put forward for secretary of labor." Ludwig was in Paris and did not respond to Bachus' request, but his office said it was preparing the requested papers relating to his WH visits. Senate Labor cmte officials said the staff is still working on the questions it wants Herman to answer, and her confirmation hearing "could be put off until late February" (Chandler/Swoboda, W. POST, 1/28).

Senate leadership sources said there is "growing doubt" the Senate will confirm Herman. One leadership aide: "I think her nomination is in a lot of trouble." The aide also described the nomination as headed into a "black hole." In addition to the mtg. with Ludwig, GOPers are examining Herman's role in an effort to "woo" African-American voters using WH offices and aides during the campaign. The GOP is also still looking into allegations of "hanky-panky" involving gov't contracts when Herman was a political appointee in Jimmy Carter's WH (Galvin, N.Y. POST, 1/28).

Herman "was at the center" of foreign trade missions organized by the late Commerce Sec. Ron Brown and "linked to Democratic fund-raising operations." Herman, while Public Liaison dir., "lined up briefings" with Clinton and VP Gore for corporate executives tapped for trade missions," according to court-ordered testimony by James Hackney, Brown's counsel at Commerce (Archibald, W. TIMES, 1/28).

Documents released by the WH also show that WH aides, working under Herman, "developed plans" last year "to energize" non- profit groups "to work" for Clinton's re-election. According to the WH plans, turned over in a six-inch thick package to Hill cmtes investigating Dem fund-raising practices, gov't employees "were encouraged" to use organizations ranging from the Spina Bifida Association to the Nat'l Council of LaRaza and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute "to find 'surrogates' that could be used to disseminate" Dem campaign materials, letters to the editor, and for "producing third-party horror stories on what will happen if the president's proposals are not carried out," one document said. One of the documents intended to "spur on" African-American support read: "Legally, none of the African- Americans for Clinton steering committees are permitted to separately raise funds for the Re-elect to pay for outreach programs -- because of the federal election law." The WH said all the work Herman did on behalf of the campaign was done after her regular work was completed (Gay, W. TIMES, 1/28)

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