U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond's office on Wednesday washed its hands of the
controversy involving his wife
and efforts to get her male companion a job in the Bush administration.
"Mrs. Thurmond has requested that any media inquiries involving her
be directed to her attention and that the
office not comment on them. We are honoring that request," said Genevieve Erny, spokeswoman for the senator.
Nancy Thurmond could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that a woman identifying herself
as a Thurmond staffer phoned the
White House a few weeks ago and requested a job interview for Dr. Robert Oldham, chairman of the Carolina
Biotechnology Association. Oldham is a business partner and constant social companion of Nancy Thurmond.
She is executive director.
Left unanswered Wednesday were questions about a Feb. 19 handwritten
letter on Thurmond's Senate stationery
to a senior Bush official. The writer asks the official to give "prompt attention and assistance" in scheduling an
appointment for Oldham.
The letter said, "If we can be of further help, please call Nancy and
me at home, not at the office,
concerning this matter. Highest personal regards. Strom Thurmond."
Thurmond's Senate staff was asked if the senator wrote the letter. If
not, did he authorize someone else to write it
and sign his name? If he didn't, is he concerned that someone is forging his name and using his office letterhead?
The office remained tight-lipped.
Staffers, who saw the letter, say it is not Thurmond's handwriting.
Asked if the White House is giving any consideration to an appointment
of Oldham to a federal job, Bush media
adviser Tucker Eskew said, "The administration routinely declines to discuss specific names in the appointment process."
Oldham, a 59-year-old divorcee with five grown children, did not return phone calls.
He told The (Charleston) Post and Courier that he, not Nancy Thurmond,
wrote to a White House contact volunteering
his service. He said he was not seeking a job.
A source with close ties to the Bush administration said no one who
gets recommended in a "bogus letter" is a serious
candidate for an administration job.
The controversy comes on the heels of published reports last month that
Nancy Thurmond, 54, tried to broker a deal
with Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges in which the senator would agree to step down early if the governor would appoint
her to finish the term. Hodges declined .
Thurmond, 98, says he will not seek re-election but insists he has every
intention of serving out his term,
which expires in January 2003.
The senator and his wife separated in 1991, after 22 years of marriage
and four children.