Washington UPDATE: Advice on African Americans Stalls Herman Confirmation

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: Advice on African Americans Stalls Herman Confirmation.

A Black college graduate's nomination to become Secretary of Labor is under scrutiny in part because of criticism that she mixed government service with political outreach efforts to African Americans.

Alexis Herman's nomination to take over the department of Labor remains in limbo as Senate Republican leaders review her tenure as director of the White House Office of Public Liaison during President Clinton's first term. One activity under question is a memo she wrote to the president's re-election campaign about how to gain more support from African Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said the memo comes "awfully close" to violating a federal law -- the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity by government employees. He also expressed concern because the memo reportedly outlined plans to bring in African American campaign contributors for visits to the White House.

The criticism prompted a sharp exchange with White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, who said he could not believe the Senate would deem Herman unqualified "because she attempted to encourage African Americans to participate in the political life of this nation."

An angry Lott fired back that the issue was not encouraging African Americans to vote, but was Herman's possible role in inviting political contributors to the White House. …