Meyerhoff meets top official at White House

April 09, 1993|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Baltimore developer Harvey M. Meyerhoff, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, met with a top White House official Wednesday, a week after being told by the Clinton administration he would have to step down as chairman at the end of the month.

The meeting, between Mr. Meyerhoff and the White House personnel director, Bruce Lindsey, was arranged by Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who was outraged at the unceremonious ouster of Mr. Meyerhoff only weeks before the Holocaust museum is to open here, said Daryl Plevy, a Mikulski aide.

Mr. Meyerhoff, a Republican who was appointed chairman in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, donated $6 million to the museum, which is scheduled to be dedicated April 22. The Clinton administration, which has recently made a sweep of dismissals so it can make way for its own appointments, told Mr. Meyerhoff that he and the vice chairman, William J. Lowenberg, would be replaced after April 30.

Upon learning of the ouster, Ms. Mikulski was "volcanic," said Ms. Plevy, over the treatment of Mr. Meyerhoff, a highly respected philanthropist in the Baltimore community, and particularly by the timing of the dismissal.

"Everyone's been reading in the paper there's no secretary of the Army, no secretary of the Air Force or Navy, no head of Social Security," Ms. Mikulski said, according to her aide. "On these appointments, we're moving with molasses speed while we move with lightning speed on the head of the Holocaust Museum."

White House officials have said that the decision to remove Mr. Meyerhoff as chairman was prompted by the new Democratic president's desire to replace Republican holdovers with his own appointees. Mr. Meyerhoff was asked by Mr. Clinton to remain on the council established to oversee the construction of the museum.

A White House spokeswoman refused to comment yesterday on Mr. Meyerhoff's meeting with Mr. Lindsey, considered one of Mr. Clinton's closest aides.

When Ms. Mikulski called Mr. Lindsey last week with her complaints, "he was responsive to the senator's concerns," Ms. Plevy said yesterday, "in the sense that he was willing to meet right away [with Mr. Meyerhoff] and at least listen."

Mr. Meyerhoff and Mr. Lindsey said their meeting Wednesday was "cordial," the aide said.

Mr. Meyerhoff was at the Holocaust Museum yesterday and could not be reached, but a close associate said the council chairman suggested to Mr. Lindsey that the White House slow down the process and name an interim chairman, to allow more time for the selection of new leadership for the museum.

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