The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 71.0°F | Mostly Cloudy and Windy

State Department Official Resigns Amid Allegations

By Walter Pincus
The Washington Post

Richard M. Moose resigned as undersecretary of state for management to head a study at the Council on Foreign Relations on the impact of declining U.S. government foreign policy spending, the State Department announced.

State Department officials said Sunday that Moose decided to step down after acknowledging a consentual relationship with a member of his immediate staff.

His decision came after the State Department inspector general began an investigation into allegations contained in an anonymous letter that Moose had increased his routine overseas travel accompanied by a woman on his immediate staff with whom he was alleged to be having an affair.

The department officials said Sunday that Moose's decision to resign was his own.

The department's fifth-ranking official, Moose was in charge of all budgetary, administrative and personnel matters at the State Department.

Moose has told friends, according to one source, that he was confident the inquiry by the inspector general would clear him of any wrongdoing or misuse of travel funds but that he decided to resign because in the current pre-election atmosphere it was his only hope to hold down the scope and length of any investigation.

The author of the anonymous letter to the inspector general wrote that Moose "should resign," saying the situation facing the department was "at best embarrassing and at worst politically explosive."

As the person most responsible for implementing budget cuts made by Congress in State Department activities over the past few years, Moose had recently become the target of much internal criticism. Earlier this year, for example, there were leaks to reporters from inside the department that Moose flew back to the United States first class from Paris after a meeting with U.S. ambassadors to European countries to tell them they had to cut staffs by 25 percent. It turned out that Moose had an economy class ticket on Trans World Airlines that was upgraded to first class for free by the carrier.

Moose declined Sunday to comment on the reasons for his resignation, the announcement of which was posted by the State Department late Friday. He said that "my travel was neither excessive nor improper." Department officials said it is not unusual for secretaries and undersecretaries to travel with members of their immediate staff.

Moose said he was scheduled to start work on the council study right after Labor Day.

In his letter of resignation to Secretary of State Warren Christopher Friday, Moose, who began as a foreign service officer in 1956, said the department "has been an important part of my life for the last forty years. I shall always be grateful for the privilege to have served President Clinton and you during this period."

State Department deputy spokesman Glyn Davies said Sunday that the department regretted his leaving but that Moose "chose to leave government service for personal and professional reasons." Davies said he would not discuss any other aspects of the resignation, "including a possible ongoing investigation" by the State Department.

In accepting "with regret" Moose's resignation, Christopher praised his three years of service. Referring to Moose's new system for allocating overseas costs among U.S. agencies operating abroad, Christopher said, "The management initiatives launched under your leadership will benefit the department for many years to come."

Patrick Kennedy, assistant secretary for administration, will serve as acting undersecretary for management in Moose's place, the department said.

Moose, who is married and a native of Little Rock, Ark., was a foreign service officer who in the 1960s and 1970s worked on the National Security Council staff under presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. After two years on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired then by the late senator J. William Fulbright, D-Ark., Moose in 1977 was named assistant secretary of State for African affairs in the administration of President Jimmy Carter. He returned to the State Department in 1993 after working first as a managing director of Shearson Lehman and later senior vice president of American Express Co.