Alexis Herman Under Investigation

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WASHINGTON: Poor Alexis Herman. Thanks to jittery attorneys in the Justice Departments Public Integrity office, the labor secretary becomes the fifth Clinton cabinet member to go under an independent counsels microscope. The publicity-wary DOJ lawyers advised Janet Reno to appoint an investigator, and the attorney general agreed -- despite admitting there was no evidence clearly demonstrating Secretary Hermans involvement in a cash-for-influence scam. Now its up to a three-judge court of appeals panel to name the lucky prosecutor.

The evidence may be lacking, but the allegations certainly arent. At issue: Whether Herman received an envelope stuffed with cash from African businessman Laurent Yene, plus a $250,000 illegal campaign contribution from Yenes friend Vanessa Weaver, in return for Hermans help in acquiring a federal license for a satellite phone system. Herman says Yene is simply out for revenge over a soured business deal. And shes certainly got the support of her boss: The President, explained a wry Mike McCurry, knows what its like to be nibbled by an independent counsel.