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Washington Outlook: Capital Wrapup
Republicans hope to stir up new trouble for Lauri Fitz-Pegado, nominee to head the U.S. Foreign & Commercial Service. Fitz-Pegado is a friend and business associate of Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. The former Hill & Knowlton Inc. executive's nomination has languished for months because she once lobbied for dictators in Haiti and Angola and was accused by opponents of misleading Congress before the gulf war, when she orchestrated uncorroborated testimony about alleged Iraqi atrocities. Fitz-Pegado insists she misled no one.
Now, Senator Lauch Faircloth (R-N.C.) is poking into the departure of Fitz-Pegado's husband, Fernando Pegado, from Angola's state oil company, Sonangol, during a 1987 scandal involving up to $60 million in allegedly misspent funds. Pegado was director of the company's London office. While he was named in a lawsuit brought by Sonangol, the complaint was later abandoned and he was not a party to the final settlement. The court action also bars future claims against him. In 1988 he married Lauri Fitz and moved to the U.S. He currently is an energy consultant. Some Senate Democrats have urged withdrawal of the nomination, but Brown is insistent. He hopes for a Senate vote in June.