President Bush's spokesman pledged Tuesday there will be no conflict of interest regarding Secretary of State James A. Baker III's ownership of bank stocks, saying an "appropriate solution" is being sought by Baker's lawyers.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters that the decision on Baker's stocks "doesn't require a presidential review. The matter is being worked out. There will not be a conflict of interest."Baker said during a visit to Ottawa, Canada, last Friday that he was seeking a waiver from the administration to permit him to participate in decisions on Third World debt while holding the investment.
Baker said he would accept any of several options that might have be chosen by administration lawyers and ethics specialists, including selling the stock in Chemical New York Corp., a bank holding company. Chemical Bank has extended more than $4 billion in loans to Third World nations.
Fitzwater commented in response to a story in The Washington Post Tuesday that members of two Senate committees were unaware that Baker held large amounts of bank stock during the process of his confirmation as treasury secretary four years ago.