June 12, 2007

NEWS: Contoversy surrounds USAID position

Bush nominee says Hispanics are ‘lazy’

A 1987 speech comes back to haunt Bush official -- again

By Miguel M. Morales

President Bush’s nominee for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) once said Hispanics are ‘lazy’ and that Blacks aren’t interested in factory jobs because they’d rather sell drugs.

The Capital Standard, a weekly electronic newsletter focusing on Hispanic issues on Capital Hill, reports that Henrietta Fore, acting USAID administrator, made the comments in a 1987 speech at her alma mater, Wellsley College. After controversy arose from her remarks, Fore resigned her seat as trustee of the college.

Fore would replace Randall Tobias, who resigned April 27 after his named surfaced on an escort service’s list of clients. The position ranks the equivalent to the deputy secretary of state.

In the speech, Fore also said her experience as a businessperson in the manufacturing industry demonstrated the difficulty in finding good personnel of color.

Fore said Asians are “good workers” but employers could not count on them to stay on a line job because they desired to move into management. She also said whites were “resentful” of having to work with new technology.

In June 2005, during Fore’s confirmation hearings for the State Department undersecretary for management, Senator Barak Obama questioned Fore, then director at the U.S. Mint, about these statements. Obama went as far as to request Fore’s FBI file.

During the hearings, Fore apologized and vowed to work with congressional minority caucuses. The Congressional Black Caucus issued a statement saying Fore had not met with members in the past two years. The Hispanic Caucus confirmed a meeting with Fore but would not disclose the contents of the discussion.

The senate confirmed Fore as State Department undersecretary for management in August 2005. Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state, appointed Fore as acting director of Foreign Assistance, May 7. If confirmed by the senate as USAID Administrator, Fore will concurrently hold both positions.