STUTTGART, Germany (AP) _ The Christian Democrats chose a new secretary-general Monday, the latest move aimed at distancing the opposition party from a financial scandal surrounding former leader Helmut Kohl.

Delegates at a party meeting in Stuttgart voted overwhelmingly in favor of naming as Laurenz Meyer to succeed Ruprecht Polenz, who resigned Oct. 24 after six months in office. In the fall of 2001, Meyer's leadership must be approved by delegates at the annual party convention.

The scandal began late last year with ex-Chancellor Kohl's admissions that he received illegal donations while in office.

Parliamentary investigators and prosecutors are still probing whether the donations could have influenced government policy, a charge Kohl has denied.

Meyer is an assertive former industry manager and senior legislator in Germany's biggest state, North Rhine-Westphalia. The more reserved Polenz had become party leader as the result of an earlier shakeup that ousted Wolfgang Schaeuble, Kohl's hand-picked successor as party chairman.