URGENT Clinton Names Riley Education Secretary, O’Leary Energy Secretary
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ President-elect Clinton today named former South Carolina Gov. Dick Riley as education secretary and Hazel O’Leary, a Minnesota utility executive, to run the Energy Department.
O’Leary, a 55-year-old executive vice president of the Northern States Power Co., was the second woman and the third black selected for a Cabinet post by the president-elect. At a nationally televised news conference, Clinton hailed her as an ″energy expert with hands-on experience in both business and government.″
Clinton praised Riley as ″my partner and my mentor″ on education reform during the years the two men served as governors.
Even as Clinton made the appointments, dissatisfied leaders of women’s groups were meeting in Washington with transition director Vernon Jordan as part of a public effort to pressure the president-elect into naming additional female Cabinet members.
″They’ve been playing quotas games and math games,″ Clinton said angrily when asked at a news conference about their criticism. He noted he has named women to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council of Economic Advisers - both sub-Cabinet posts - and said the ″bean counters″ among women’s groups were not giving him full credit for his efforts to give women a greater voice in his incoming administration.
The appointments left Clinton with six Cabinet slots to fill and he plans a flurry of pre-Christmas announcements. The unfilled jobs are at the departments of Interior, State, Defense, Transportation, Agriculture and Justice.
Front-runners include: Rep. Mike Espy, D-Miss., a black lawmaker, for agriculture, former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt for interior, and Chicago banker William Daley for transportation.
Clinton transition director Warren Christopher is front-runner for secretary of state, and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin of Wisconsin appears in line to become defense secretary.
The status of Clinton’s search for an attorney general is less clear, although several women are said to be among the top candidates.
Clinton made his selections of Riley and O’Leary known by a now-familiar routine. He and his appointees, joined by Vice President-elect Al Gore, attended a mid-afternoon news conference in Little Rock.
In accepting the appointment, Riley said, ″There is no magic bullet to solve our education problems. We need to continue our effort ... to bring about fundamental change but to do it in a positive way.″
Said O’Leary: ″Like President-elect Clinton, I believe we need change in the Department of Energy. Change is necessary because the same tried and true strategies do not work.″
Riley, like Clinton, was first elected governor in 1978. Both were among the New South group of governors who put education reform atop their state agendas. The two have remained close friends, with the 59-year-old Riley heading Clinton’s search for sub-Cabinet and other senior administration appointments.
O’Leary served in federal energy posts in both the Ford and Carter administrations and worked as a state and county prosecutor in New Jersey.
She joined Northern States Power, which serves 1.6 million customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and part of Michigan, in 1989 and recently was promoted to head the utility’s natural gas subsidiary. She had been senior vice president for corporate affairs.
O’Leary’s selection as energy secretary came after an early front-runner, retiring Colorado Sen. Timothy Wirth, faded as a prospect. Clinton told reporters he hoped Wirth would join his administration in a different capacity, and said his once-likely appointment had not been ″nixed″ by special interest groups or a part of his transition organization.
Eleanor Smeal of the Fund for the Feminist Majority urged Clinton to ″slow the process down″ and consider more women for Cabinet positions. But the president-elect wants to complete his Cabinet this week so he and his economic team can begin to craft a federal budget while other aides focus on sub- Cabinet appointments.
Clinton confidant Bruce Lindsey said the president-elect ″believes that once all the decisions are made that those groups that are worried will be happy with the choices. But (Clinton) is not going to sacrifice quality for diversity.″
Three women have been chosen to serve in high-ranking administration posts. Carol Browner was tapped to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Laura D’Andrea Tyson will head the White House Council of Economic Advisors and Alice Rivlin was named as deputy chief of the Office of Management and Budget.
A fourth women, Dr. Joycelyn Elders has said she was asked to be U.S. Surgeon General. Clinton, however, has not publicly announced that appointment.
Two blacks already had been named to the Cabinet: Democratic Party chairman Ronald H. Brown, commerce secretary; and disabled Vietnam veteran Jesse Brown, secretary of veterans affairs. Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, who is Hispanic, has been named secretary of housing and urban development.