Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) onMonday cleared Energy Secretary in-waiting Bill Richardson ofallegations that he may have misled Congress when testifying duringhis confirmation hearing last month about a job offer he made toformer White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

In letters to both President Clinton and Richardson, currentU.N. ambassador to the United Nations, Murkowski said a bipartisaninvestigation by the committee staff “found no basis to believethat Ambassador Richardson had misled the committee in any way.”

During his confirmation hearing for the energy post on July 22,Richardson testified he offered Lewinsky a $30,000-a-year positionin November 1997, but she turned it down. He told the committee theposition was not specially created for her.

The full Senate subsequently approved Richardson’s confirmation,but Murkowski urged the White House to delay the swearing-in whilehis panel investigated a Washington Times story that allegedRichardson did not have an opening on his staff when he offeredLewinsky the job, that he gave Lewinsky “special treatment,” andthat he took steps to conceal his actions when news of Clinton’srelationship with Lewinsky first broke last January.

In the end, “we found no credible evidence” to support theWashington Times’ allegations that Richardson intentionally misledCongress while under oath, committee investigators told Murkowskiand other committee members in an Aug. 17th memo. “To the contrary,we found clear and convincing evidence corroborating theambassador’s testimony.”

Murkowski told Clinton that he accepted the findings of thebi-partisan staff and supported Richardson as energy secretary.

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