Out of Portugal, Questions for Coelho

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Vice President Al Gore was trying to make a fresh start last week when he fired his pollster and began transplanting his struggling campaign from Washington to Nashville, Tenn. But on Saturday, Gore’s operation was rattled again, this time by charges from the U.S. government. The State Department Inspector General found that Gore’s campaign chairman, Tony Coelho, may have mishandled federal funds while serving overseas last year as the commissioner general of the U.S. pavilion at a Portuguese exposition. The I.G. found that Coelho approved "questionable payments" to a New York-based consultant and preferred a chauffeured limo to other forms of transport. Coelho, who has been Gore’s campaign manager since May, resigned from Congress in 1989 rather than face an inquiry into a questionable business deal. Gore officials had no comment on the I.G.’s findings, which were first reported by the A.P.