GOP SNIPING AGAINST RON Brown may have the unintended effect of keeping him in his beloved job as Commerce Secretary a while longer. Bill Clinton wants to shift Brown over to head his reelection committee--an uphill task that Brown doesn't relish. Political savants say the latest flap over Brown's finances makes it more likely Clinton will keep Brown at Commerce, where he's the toast of Corporate America, rather than move him closer to the President.
House Government Reform & Oversight Committee Chairman William Clinger Jr. (R-Pa.) wants Brown to appear before his panel. Otherwise, Clinger may push for the Justice Dept. to appoint an independent counsel. According to The Washington Post, an ex-business partner of Brown paid $190,000 of his personal debts, which his lawyer calls payment for Brown's share of the business.
Brown, who dubs the latest imbroglio "much ado about nothing," says he is "more helpful to the President and the economy where I am." To reinforce that, Brown is stepping up his trade-mission itinerary: He left on Jan. 14 for India with 25 U.S. CEOs. Future jaunts: the Middle East, China, South America, and Africa.