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At an airport near you

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is a frequent flier again.

With the new federal fiscal year replenishing his travel budget and Democratic candidates throughout the country requesting his help, Mr. Riley is booked this month.

Last week's schedule had Mr. Riley visiting four states, both in his role as the nation's top educator and as a volunteer for the Democratic Party. His schedule for this week had him appearing in six states. Mr. Riley plans to keep up the pace until Election Day, a spokesman said.

Mr. Riley stayed close to home for the past several months after Congress passed a law capping the fiscal 1996 travel budgets of Cabinet secretaries.

When the new budget year started Oct. 1 and with campaigns shifting in high gear, Mr. Riley started his cross-country tour with an infusion of federal and campaign dollars.

He got a head start with a Sept. 30 speech at Bank Street College in New York City in his official capacity as education secretary. He returned home for a day before heading to Dearborn, Mich., to announce school-technology grants. By last Friday, he was scheduled to be in Las Vegas for an appearance with Gov. Bob Miller, a Democrat whose term lasts until 1998, and planned to fly to Berkeley, Calif., for a speech at the University of California there.

His schedule for the Oct. 5-6 weekend had him in California on Saturday raising money for Democratic candidates and in Hartford, Conn., Sunday for the debate between President Clinton and Bob Dole.

When Mr. Riley mixes work with politics, his accountants and aides watch carefully, said Rick Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Education.

Federal rules require accountants to track the time Mr. Riley spends on each task, with costs divided accordingly.

Mr. Riley apparently will keep the bean counters busy in the month or so before Nov. 5.

This week had him scheduled for southern Ohio Monday to campaign for Ted Strickland, who is fighting to regain the congressional seat he lost in 1994. On Tuesday, the secretary planned to be in the Cleveland area for official duties. From there, he was to go on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the Oct. 9 vice presidential debate.

--DAVID J. HOFFfederal@epe.org

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