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At the Department of Education and other federal agencies, a name may open the door to a "plum" job, a new list of a political appointments from the government's Office of Personnel Management suggests.

Of the more than 140 people working at the Education Department who were appointed by President Clinton or Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, at least five are connected to Clinton administration and Capitol Hill insiders.

Mr. Riley's communications director is David Frank. His brother is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and his sister, Ann Lewis, was the chief spokeswoman for Mr. Clinton's re-election campaign.

James J. Blanchard Jr., one of 11 people on Mr. Riley's staff with the title "confidential assistant," is the son and namesake of a former Michigan governor.

The elder Mr. Blanchard worked closely with Mr. Clinton when both were governors and was Mr. Clinton's first ambassador to Canada.

What's in a name?

Others with titles such as special assistant or confidential assistant include Elizabeth R. Doggett, the wife of Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; Eulanda Watt, the wife of Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C.; and Gayle C. Tauzin, the ex-wife of Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La.

"Special" and "confidential" assistants perform a variety of jobs, from writing speeches to setting policy, according to Rick Miller, Mr. Riley's press secretary.

Mr. Miller confirmed the family ties of those listed in United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly called the "plum book" because it lists top jobs after presidential elections.

"Just because they're relatives of VIPs, it doesn't mean they're not excellent at what they do," Mr. Miller said. Ms. Watt, for example, is a former principal, he said.

Mr. Miller, for the record, is relatively poorly connected; he earned his stripes working in the headquarters of Mr. Clinton's 1992 campaign.

The salaries of most of the plum political appointees range from $30,600 to $95,500.

As one of 19 political appointees in the department's senior-executive-service category, Mr. Frank earns between $100,500 and $122,700, according to Michael Ornstein, an OPM spokesman.

—DAVID J. HOFF federal@epe.org

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