Clinton Pulls Nomination For Va Chief

SATURDAY, OCT. 25, 1997

President Clinton on Friday withdrew the nomination of Hershel Gober, the deputy secretary of veterans affairs, to be the department’s secretary.

In confirmation hearings, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs intended to explore circumstances surrounding the exoneration of Gober after he was accused of sexual misconduct in 1993, a congressional staff member said.

Gober said he preferred to remain as deputy secretary, and Clinton said he regretted Gober’s decision not to pursue the nomination.

Gober was state director of veterans affairs in Arkansas when Clinton was governor.

A White House spokesman said the nomination was withdrawn after it became clear that the Senate committee would not approve Gober’s confirmation.

The White House said Gober would remain as deputy secretary. A department spokesman, James H. Holley, said that in 1993 a woman who did not work for the department accused Gober of “unwanted contact” at a function in Baltimore. The accusation, Holley said, was filed with the department’s general counsel, Mary Lou Keener, who turned it over to a career staff lawyer for investigation. The lawyer found the accusation to be meritless.

In January 1996, Gober and Keener were married.

After the accuser pursued her case, the department’s regional counsel in Baltimore also found the accusation not justified.

Holley said, and a congressional staff member confirmed, that the Senate committee was interested not in the accusation itself but in the potential conflict of interest that arose when Keener’s office first exonerated Gober.

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