Future of Veterans Affairs secretary is confused
July 8, 1999
Web posted at: 12:58 p.m. EDT (1658 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 8) -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West insists he is not planning to quit his post, even though senior administration officials told CNN earlier Thursday that he will resign soon.
A Veterans Affairs Spokesman Terry Jemison says: "Secretary West's position is that he is not planning to leave."
However, senior administration officials say there is dissatisfaction within the Clinton Adminstration regarding West's performance.
Veterans groups and lawmakers from both parties have criticized the secretary for failing to secure what they consider an adequate veterans budget from the White House. West has also come under scrutiny for what some call excessive use of travel funds.
An administration official also confirms to CNN that Vice President Al Gore was among those concerned about West's performance, but says that a published report about Gore's involvement was exaggerated.
The Washington Post on Thursday quoted veterans sources as saying Gore may have had a hand in West's departure. The vice president, according to the Post's sources, was concerned veterans' groups might take out their anger at West on Gore's presidential campaign.
If West were to depart, the move would likely to return control of the VA to the hands of Deputy Secretary Hershel Gober.
Gober, an Arkansas friend of President Bill Clinton, was the president's first choice to run the department following the 1997 departure of then-Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown. Gober withdrew his name from nomination after charges of sexual harassment were made against him, though he denied any wrongdoing.
West is a former Army secretary and Washington lobbyist.