U.S. OFFICE OF INSULAR AFFAIRS PROBE HITS WHITE HOUSE

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By Audrey Hudson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 25, 1999 – Washington Times)---A congressional investigation of Interior Department officials for illegal political activities is being expanded to include a White House official.

U.S. Marshals yesterday served a subpoena at the White House requiring that all documents between Jeffrey Farrow, a senior official in the Intergovernmental Affairs Office, and the Interior officials be delivered to the House Resources Committee by Sept. 7.

Committee Chairman Don Young is investigating Office of Insular Affairs employees for on-the-job campaign activities against House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Whip Tom DeLay of Texas and three other GOP congressmen in the 1998 elections.

Allen P. Stayman, then-director of Insular Affairs, and David North, former policy director, are the main targets of the congressional investigation as well as inspector general and special counsel probes.

They were at odds with the Republicans over President Clinton's plan to apply immigration and wage laws to the Northern Mariana Islands near Guam.

Mr. Farrow has worked at the White House for five years and is the White House liaison with government entities -- including the Interior Department -- on issues involving U.S. territories. He leads the administration's efforts to federalize the Mariana Islands.

The White House official was subpoenaed because investigators "are interested to see if he knew what was going on over at Interior," a congressional staffer said.

White House spokesman Barry Toiv said they do not, as a matter of policy, comment on staff members receiving subpoenas.

Mr. Young said: "Federal employees should not feel free to use their offices to punish members of Congress whose views they disagree with.

"Regardless of your views on the Marianas dispute, this committee must ensure that the process has not been tainted by improper political and lobbying use of federal resources, targeting certain members in retaliation for their beliefs," he said.

The committee is investigating whether Mr. North's and Mr. Stayman's activities violated the Hatch Act, Anti-Federal Lobbying statute, and the Privacy Act.

"This is typical of this 'out to get you and the rules don't apply to us' administration," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and one of the congressman targeted for defeat.

A subpoena was also issued Friday for Mr. Stayman's computer hard drive. Mr. North's computer was turned over to the committee after it was subpoenaed last month.

The committee has subpoenaed any Democratic National Committee material related to political or lobbying activity in conjunction with the officials under investigation.

Documents from Mr. North's computer show he drafted press releases for Democratic candidates, provided derogatory information about Republican lawmakers to their opponents and reporters, and wrote letters to the editor for constituents to submit to local papers.

The Insular Affairs office is responsible for coordinating federal policy in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Supporters of the president's efforts say U.S. labor standards need to be instituted to reduce sweatshop conditions in the textile factories. They say U.S. immigration standards should also apply to stem the flow of guest workers coming to the islands, most of whom are Chinese.

"This is about money and power for labor unions," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy.

"They've tried to unionize the factories, but they can't because the workers come and go, so now they want to shut them down," she said.

While the factories are not subject to minimum-wage laws --workers make $3.05 an hour -- they are subject to federal inspections of plant conditions.

The previous governor of the island fought the proposals, prompting Mr. Stayman to request that the DNC "repudiate" the governor one month before the 1997 Election Day for "scorning" Mr. Clinton and his efforts to federalize the islands.

"Largely out of sight, there is a nominal Democrat, a governor running for re-election, who scorns our president, who is in Washington this week playing footsie with the Republican House leadership, and who should be repudiated -- in writing -- by the nation's Democrats," Mr. Stayman wrote.

"Those of us who are politicals here at Interior want the DNC to repudiate these scoundrels," he said in the memo obtained by The Washington Times.

Materials obtained so far by the committee show Mr. North spent a significant amount of time on political and lobbying activities.

One memo he wrote to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said: "We have been asked for the names and phone numbers of the Democratic candidate for Congress in these districts if they have been identified for 1998.

"Some friends have asked for this information because the incumbents (Armey, DeLay, and Rohrbacher [sic]) have been giving the Clinton Administration a hard time," Mr. North said.

Mr. North specifically asked one Democratic campaign aide to contact him at his Interior Department office rather than at home, to discuss ways in which to defeat Republicans in the 1998 election.

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