Chavez Withdraws Bid to Be Labor Secretary

President-elect George W. Bush's pick to be Secretary of Labor, Linda Chavez, pulled out of the nomination process after revelations she harbored an illegal\r\nalien.

President-elect George W. Bush is looking for a new person to be Secretary of Labor, as his embattled first choice, Linda Chavez, pulled out of the process after revelations she harbored an illegal alien.

"I have decided I have become a distraction," Chavez said at a press conference yesterday explaining her decision.

Chavez also chose to fire some parting shots at what she called the "search and destroy methods" used by the press and her political opponents, attacking those who practice the "politics of personal destruction."

Chavez claimed it was an act of charity to allow Marta Mercado, an illegal immigrant, to live in her house for two years in the early 1990s. The woman received spending money from Chavez and helped with household chores, but Chavez denied she employed Mercado.

Labor unions had targeted the Chavez nomination before the revelations concerning the illegal alien, and they seized on the issue to make the case that Chavez should not be charged with enforcing the nation''s labor laws. It is a violation of federal law to harbor an illegal immigrant.

President-elect Bush, in a measured statement, called Chavez a "good person," and said he was "disappointed" she will not become the nation''s next secretary of labor. The president-elect chose not to join Chavez''s complaints about having been punished for helping a poor woman.

Chavez said it was her choice to pull out, but she appeared to lose the support of Bush officials in part because she had not been forthcoming with them about her relationship with the illegal immigrant. There were also allegations that Chavez sought to influence a former neighbor''s telling of the story. Chavez admitted at the press conference that she knew Mercado was illegal at the time she was living with her.

Chavez admitted it was a mistake not to come forward sooner about the Mercado situation, but blamed the shortened transition time period for her failure to do so.

Attention now shifts to Chavez''s replacement. Former congressman James Talent and Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., were the two names most often mentioned before Chavez was picked, but the Washington Post is reporting that Bush already has a nominee in mind and it was likely to be someone who was not talked about previously.

by James Nash

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