WASHINGTON — Henrietta Holsman Fore, a Nevadan who has held high-level jobs in the Bush administration, has been named acting director of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
White House officials said Monday that Fore will be nominated for Senate confirmation to become administrator of the agency, which distributes most of the government’s nonmilitary foreign aid. The agency’s fiscal 2008 budget request was $20.3 billion.
Fore, 58, will manage USAID on an acting basis. She succeeds Randall Tobias, who resigned April 27 after being linked to the "D.C. Madam" call girl operation.
Fore had no comment, a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday. Fore worked as an assistant administrator at the Agency for International Development in the early 1990s under President George H.W. Bush.
The USAID appointment is Fore’s latest post in the Bush administration, which she joined in 2001 as director of the U.S. Mint. In 2005, she was confirmed as State Department undersecretary for management, responsible for human resources and embassy operations worldwide.
Fore is a businesswoman whose family company, Stockton Products, manufactures wire and metal construction materials and is based in North Las Vegas.
The Senate has confirmed Fore twice to government positions. But her 2005 confirmation to become undersecretary of management at the State Department temporarily was held up by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
On Tuesday, Obama said through a spokesman he intends to "carefully scrutinize" Fore.
"Given the important role played by the director of USAID, Senator Obama will carefully scrutinize Ms. Fore’s record over the past two years at the State Department and will withhold judgment about her qualifications for this new position until after her confirmation hearing," spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
In 2005, Obama said he was troubled by reports of remarks Fore had delivered in 1987 at her alma mater, Wellesley College.
The New York Times and Boston Globe reported at the time that Fore commented to a business class on the work ethic of Asians, Hispanics and whites, and said Stockton Products had trouble keeping black assembly line workers from going "back to the street to earn more money."
The comments sparked controversy on campus and led to Fore’s resignation as a trustee. Fore said her remarks were taken out of context and were misrepresented by activists.
To clear her nomination, Fore met with Obama, who examined her personnel record at the Mint and in the private sector before allowing her to be confirmed.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who has been critical of how the U.S. government manages foreign aid, wants to speak to Fore before announcing whether he will back her latest confirmation, spokesman Tory Mazzola said Tuesday.
Ensign has challenged U.S. aid priorities, offering a Senate amendment last year to divert $153 million from overseas accounts to hire more agents to patrol the U.S. border.
"He has supported (Fore) in the past but wants to have a conversation with her about U.S. aid first," Mazzola said.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., "is pleased that a Nevadan has been nominated for this position. He will give her serious consideration and is looking forward to her nomination hearing," a spokesman said.
Tobias resigned after acknowledging an ABC News report that he had been a client of Deborah Jean Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam," who has been accused of racketeering in running an illegal call girl service.
Fore is among a handful of Nevadans in influential posts in Washington.
The list includes Jon Wellinghoff, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Peter Lyons, a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Jim Bilbray, a member of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; and Bruce James, who recently retired as director of the Government Printing Office.