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Don't Leave The House Without It

The first woman to serve as clerk of the House is resigning after an Inspector General's report found that she bought personal items with her House credit card and used an aide to run personal errands, House officials say.

Robin H. Carle resigned Monday, the Committee on House Oversight announced, without mentioning the Inspector General's findings. The post, as old as Congress, currently pays $132,800 a year.

The House Inspector General's report was not made public, but sources familiar with the findings, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it accused Ms. Carle of making $500-600 in personal purchases with her House credit card in 1997 and 1998.

A staffer was sent to pick up Ms. Carle's Christmas tree, among other errands, according to the House officials.

Ms. Carle, reached at her home in Washington's Virginia suburbs, said, "I'm going to a great job at the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, and that's my statement."

Asked about the Inspector General's report, she said, "I'm not going to start down this path."

It was not known if House officials planned to refer the matter for possible prosecution.

Ms. Carle was named clerk when Republicans took control of the House in January 1995. She formerly was a top official at the Republican National Committee and chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration.

The resignation announcement by the committee, headed by Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., said Ms. Carle would leave effective January 1.

Deputy Clerk Jeffrey J. Trandahl was named to fill the position on an interim basis. The clerk is one of the top officials in the House, and many staff operations are run by the clerk's office.

In cases of congressional vacancies, the clerk assumes control of a legislative office and chooses one or two former aides to run it until voters elect a replacement.

The clerk calls the members-elect to order at the beginning of each Congress, and presides over the House until the speaker is formally elected.

The office receives messages from the president and the Senate when the House is not in session, and acts as a records custodian. The clerk is elected every two years when the House organizes for a new Congress.

By Larry Margasak