Secretary of labor won't face charges; Independent prosecutor clears Herman in inquiry


WASHINGTON -- The independent prosecutor who has been investigating accusations of corruption involving Alexis M. Herman, the secretary of labor, said yesterday that he has concluded that Herman did not break any laws and should not be indicted.

Herman, the fifth Cabinet officer in the Clinton administration to come under scrutiny by an independent counsel, was accused by a former business partner of engaging in a plan involving kickbacks and solicitation of illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

But the independent counsel, Ralph Lancaster, who conducted the 23-month investigation, announced in a one-sentence statement yesterday that he would not seek an indictment.

Herman said she was "gratified personally and for my family" that the investigation was over.

Her lawyer, Neil Eggleston, said Herman had cooperated "in every way possible" with Lancaster.

The charges against Herman were made by Laurent Yene, a Cameroonian businessman living in the United States. He said Herman, while head of the White House office of public liaison, improperly agreed to accept payments in return for generating business for a consulting firm owned jointly by Yene and a close friend of Herman's, Vanessa Weaver.

Yene also accused Herman of directing Weaver to pressure the firm's clients to illegally contribute money to the Democratic National Committee.

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