Gore says he's keeping Coehlo as campaign chairman
October 3, 1999
Web posted at: 4:55 p.m. EDT (2055 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore said Sunday that he will keep Tony Coehlo as his campaign chairman, despite allegations that Coehlo made questionable financial decisions while he directed the U.S. pavilion at the 1998 World's Fair in Portugal.
"He's staying," Gore told CBS' Face the Nation.
The allegations about Coehlo are in an audit done by the
United States Information Agency's inspector general's
office. A copy of the report was obtained by CNN.
"I haven't seen this report," Gore told CBS, "but I know him and he's going to continue doing the terrific job he's been
doing as my campaign chairman."
The Gore campaign released a statement late Saturday that
made no reference to the report but said Coehlo "does a great
job as General Chair of Gore 2000. Day in and day out he
makes a tremendous contribution."
USIA may have to pay for $300,000 sculpture
The USIA report said that Coehlo obtained a $300,000 personal
loan from a Lisbon-based bank to buy a blue tile sculpture
called "The Wave." A private foundation was set up to repay
the loan but as of December 1998, no money had been
received. The USIA may now be responsible for repaying the
Coehlo also reportedly hired two stepsons of the U.S.
ambassador to Portugal, though USIA executives had raised the
questions about a conflict of interest. The report suggests
the two earned higher salaries than other people in the same
The report said officials hired Coehlo's niece as an
assistant in violation of USIA regulations prohibiting
contracts with relatives of agency employees.
Coehlo's attorney, Stan Brand, did not return phone calls.
Calls to the USIA were referred to the State Department,
which confirmed the authenticity of the report. State
Department officials said they had not completed their review
of the report.
Government money used at Expo
Coehlo headed the U.S. pavilion at Expo '98 in Lisbon,
Portugal. His was hired, in part, because of his ability as a
fund-raiser when Congress did not authorize money for the
The U.S. display at the Portuguese exposition was supposed to
be funded entirely with private money. But the report said
that when sufficient funds weren't forthcoming, $6.5 million
of government money was used. The report concluded that USIA
violated "the spirit if not the letter" of the law.
The report also said that Coehlo and Expo '98 staff mismanaged $210,000 worth of free airline tickets, some of which went to people who did not work for the U.S. pavilion.
At Coehlo's urging, the report said, a contractor who claimed
$26,000 worth of travel and relocation expenses not covered
by his contract was reimbursed for the full amount.
Coehlo is a former congressman from California who left the
House in 1989 after questions were raised about his personal
financial dealings. Specifically, Coehlo failed to reveal key
details of a $100,000 junk-bond purchase in 1986, and failed
to disclose $50,000 in services from a Texas savings-and-loan