On the Road with Hazel O'Leary
It might seem that, what with the Whitewater guilty verdicts and questions about requests for FBI background checks on fired Travel Office staffers by the White House Counsel's office in 1993, the last thing the Clinton administration needs right now is further bubblings about the travel shenanigans of Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary.
But that's just what they got this week, when the draft report on Mrs. O'Leary's trips by the Energy Department's Inspector General was released. Members of Congress, notably Reps. Joe Barton and Martin Hoke, have been outraged for a long time now by the number, the size and the lavishness of the energy secretary's overseas jaunts. The first-class airline seats, the first-class hotel accommodations, the oversize advance teams and even pre-advance advance teams, the huge entourages of Energy employees all seemed wasteful and unseemly at a time when serious budget-cutting was the order of the day, and when there was much talk of abolishing the Energy Department altogether.
The unseemliness was compounded by General Accounting Office findings (after a review requested by Mr. Hoke) that four trade missions Energy had been touting as bringing billions dollars of business to U.S. companies had done no such thing. More disturbing was the discovery that Mrs. O'Leary had been dipping into defense-monitoring funds to pay for those extravagant trips.
The Secretary has been called on the carpet numerous times to explain these and other extravagances - such as wasting thousands of dollars on PR campaigns for herself and the Energy Department. In response to questions about peripatetic profligacy, Mrs. …