Friday, April 13, 2007

Paul Wolfowitz's Eccentric Anti-Corruption Strategy

Technorati Tags: , ,

The Washington Post has a piece about Paul Wolfowitz's efforts to hold on to his job as president of the World Bank: The Bank's staff, livid at Wolfowitz's "little ethics problem," are demanding that he resign:

World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz publicly apologized yesterday for the "mistake" of personally orchestrating a high-paying job and guaranteed promotions for a bank employee with whom he is romantically involved, as new details of his role in the arrangement emerged and staff members angrily demanded his resignation.

Wolfowitz attempted to address about 200 staffers gathered in the bank's central atrium but left after some began hissing, booing, and chanting "Resign. . . . Resign." He had approached the gathering after holding a news conference in which he said, "I made a mistake for which I am sorry."

Bank insiders confirmed reports from the bank's staff association that Wolfowitz directed personnel officials to give Shaha Riza, his longtime companion, an automatic "outstanding" rating and the highest possible pay raises during an indefinite posting at the State Department, as well as a promotion upon her return to the bank. The Financial Times reported portions of the agreement yesterday.

When he took over as bank president in June 2005, Wolfowitz insisted not only that Riza -- then a senior communications officer at the bank -- retain her job but also that he maintain "ongoing professional contact" with her, according to a knowledgeable source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the legal issues involved.

But the bank ethics committee, citing conflict of interest regulations, ruled that she had to leave the institution. It agreed to give her a pre-departure promotion to compensate for the career disruption. Until yesterday, Wolfowitz and his aides had insisted that "all arrangements concerning Shaha Riza were made at the direction of the bank's board of directors." Bank sources said, however, that neither the board nor the ethics committee was aware of the terms of the final agreement.

"I take full responsibility for the details of the agreement and did not attempt to hide my actions or to make anyone else responsible," Wolfowitz said yesterday. He said that he had found himself in a "painful personal dilemma . . . trying to navigate in uncharted waters."

Dave at The Galloping Beaver (wonderful name, that!) notes that, reports to the contrary notwithstanding, Wolfowitz ain't too bright:

You'd think after being booed, hissed at, exposed for pressuring the HR department of the World Bank and getting his girlfriend more money than the Secretary of State that he'd be a little on the contrite side of things and just keep his mouth shut. But, oh no! He proves how unbelievably dumb he really is:

Wolfowitz bemoaned that the controversy threatens to overshadow the official agenda of the bank's annual spring meeting opening here today -- including ratification of a global anti-corruption strategy and funding to reduce poverty in Africa.

Timing is everything, isn't it?

Not to mention chutzpah.

No comments: