Fired State Department official denies political searches of passport files

November 12, 1992|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Elizabeth M. Tamposi, the senior State Department official abruptly fired yesterday in a scandal over searches into candidates' passport records, says she neither speeded up the process nor approved any review of files not sought in freedom-of-information requests.

Ms. Tamposi, a prominent New Hampshire Republican, is a key figure in an internal probe into State Department searches during the election campaign for the passport files of challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot and Mr. Clinton's mother, Virginia Kelley.

One of the questions raised is whether political motivation led department officials to accelerate searches for the Clinton files so that any damaging information that might be found could be publicized.

The search came amid GOP rumors surrounding Mr. Clinton's 1969 trip to Moscow and speculation that he might have contemplated giving up U.S. citizenship to escape the draft.

Another question is whether a search was conducted for Mrs. Kelley's and Mr. Perot's files even without a specific request for them under the Freedom of Information Act.

"With regard to the FOIA requests which pertained to Governor Clinton, I took no action that I deemed wrong or inappropriate," Ms. Tamposi said in a statement released through her family's development firm in Nashua.

"At no time did I initiate or attempt to expedite a review of any passport files. My involvement in this matter was undertaken exclusively to ensure that the Bureau of Consular Affairs properly conducted the FOIA requests it received with appropriate safeguards for all passport information."

Ms. Tamposi headed the consular affairs bureau, which includes the passport operation.

"I did not approve, encourage or condone any review of passport records other than those specifically identified in the FOIA requests," she said.

The department announced yesterday that Ms. Tamposi's resignation had been accepted by President Bush and that she would vacate her office by yesterday afternoon.

The announcement, which followed the Washington Post's disclosure of the search for Mr. Perot's records, amounted to a public punishment since she, like all the department's political appointees, had been required to submit resignations during the presidential transition.

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