Federal File: The short goodbye; Hard feelings; Money worries; Exit laughing

January 09, 1991 3 min read
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Education Department and White House sources say former Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos was sufficiently miffed at his unceremonious firing that he sent a one-line resignation letter by fax machine.

But White House officials soon prevailed on him to come up with something more substantial, the sources said.

The letter released to the media filled about two-thirds of a page.

Representative Bill Goodling of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, is also apparently angry about how the Bush Administration switched secretaries.

States News Service, which serves a client newspaper in Mr. Goodling’s district, reported that he was annoyed both about not being considered for the post himself and about not being consulted about the nomination before it was announced.

He reportedly said he would continue to introduce the Administration’s education proposals, but not “with enthusiasm.”

“Twelve years of loyalty is 12 years of loyalty. From this point on, it has to be what I believe is right and proper,” he said. “I don’t want the White House to think, well, Bill will carry on [as usual].”

In a recent interview with Education Week, Mr. Goodling gave the Administration mixed reviews for its performance in education.

He spoke only briefly, but not negatively, about the selection of Lamar Alexander for the Cabinet post.

As he did in the States News interview, Mr. Goodling said he had not been given enough credit by White House officials for pushing the President’s education proposals.

Some Education Department sources say Deputy Secretary Ted Sanders was also unhappy at being passed over for the top post.

But he has made some personnel moves.

Soon after taking over as acting secretary, Mr. Sanders dismissed George Pieler, who had been acting deputy undersecretary for planning, budget, and evaluation since Charles E.M. Kolb moved to the White House last year.

Department sources said Mr. Sanders personally disliked Mr. Pieler, who was replaced by William D. Hansen, formerly the deputy assistant secretary for legislation.

Mr. Sanders also named his top aide, Rebecca Campoverde, acting chief of staff.

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett caused a political uproar last month when he decided he could not afford to head the Republican National Committee, a job that carries a $125,000 salary.

Mr. Bennett reportedly changed his mind after being advised that his plans to supplement his pay with lucrative speaking engagements could create an appearance of impropriety, or even a breach of ethics laws.

Mr. Bennett reportedly raked in $240,000 in the months between his resignation as education secretary and his assumption of the position of director of national drug-control policy.

He said he needed cash to repay a $300,000 advance from the publisher Simon & Schuster for two books on education, which he would not have had time to write while serving as party chairman.

Speculation immediately began as to whether Mr. Bennett’s change of heart was due in part to a clash with White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu or fears that his independence would be constrained by the post. Mr. Bennett denied this.

Gary L. Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, said he had spoken to Mr. Bennett about it and “it was truly a financial and ethical problem.”

“This is one of those rare cases in which the story that was put out is actually what happened,” said Mr. Bauer, who was undersecretary of education under Mr. Bennett.

Augustus F. Hawkins, the outgoing chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, did something unusual at his final hearing last month. He said something positive about the Reagan Administration.

The subject was the Education Department’s recent ruling that minority scholarships are illegal. The California Democrat offered a passionate endorsement of scholarship programs established specifically for minorities and blasted the department’s current position.

“Even under the Reagan Administration things were ok,” the chairman said.

He chuckled with the crowd and added: “Let it be said that for once I agreed with the Reagan Adminstration.”

Mr. Hawkins opened the hearing with laughter, as well.

He knew that the person responsible for the controversial policy, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Michael L. Williams, was not going to appear as scheduled. He mocked the decision to lay low by calling out, “Is Michael Williams here? Is Mr. Williams here? Is anyone from the department available to testify?”

--jm & mp


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