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Ex-Senator Offered New Zealand Post

December 22, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Shortly after losing her bid for a second term, the White House told Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun she could be nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to New Zealand if she wants the job, a top aide to the senator said.

But Moseley-Braun, the Illinois Democrat who was dogged by controversy throughout her six years in office, has not yet decided what she wants to do next, chief of staff William Mattea said Monday.

She is also considering cashing in on the lecture circuit and returning to practicing law.

``It is only in the works if she decides to go ahead with it,″ Mattea said of the New Zealand offer.

A White House press aide did not immediately return a call seeking confirmation of the offer.

Ambassadorial nominations must be approved by the Senate, but they usually are not questioned for former members going to noncontroversial posts such as this south Pacific Commonwealth nation popular with tourists.

Moseley-Braun’s re-election bid was undone by criticism over her 1996 visit to a brutal Nigerian dictator and allegations, never proven, that she used 1993 campaign funds to pay for designer clothes, stereo equipment, jewelry, cars and travel.

She was unsuccessful despite the White House’s eagerness to see her win a second term. President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton each headlined several fund-raisers and campaigned repeatedly for Moseley-Braun for more than a year leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

But her opponent, Republican Sen.-elect Peter Fitzgerald, used $11.7 million in loans and donations from his personal banking fortune to pay for a barrage of effective television ads criticizing her ethics and ridiculing her record. The race tightened at the end, and Moseley-Braun wound up losing by a 52-48 margin -- much closer than earlier polls had indicated.