An April 28 A-section story article incorrectly reported that ABC News released a statement saying former deputy secretary of state Randall L. Tobias acknowledged using an escort service to provide massages, not sex. ABC reported his remarks on its Web site, then sent an e-mail with a copy of that report to The Post.
Rice Deputy Quits After Query Over Escort Service
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Randall L. Tobias, the deputy secretary of state responsible for U.S. foreign aid, abruptly resigned yesterday after he was asked about an upscale escort service allegedly involved in prostitution, U.S. government sources said.
Tobias resigned after ABC News contacted him with questions about the escort service, the sources said. ABC News released a statement last night saying Tobias acknowledged Thursday that he had used the service to provide massages, not sex.
Tobias has been Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's point man in an ambitious effort to overhaul how the U.S. government manages foreign aid, a key part of her "transformational diplomacy" agenda. Just two days ago, President Bush lauded Tobias for his work in the administration leading "America's monumental effort to confront and deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic on the continent of Africa."
In an unusual statement issued at 5 p.m., State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tobias informed Rice "today that he must step down as Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator effective immediately. He is returning to private life for personal reasons."
Contacted last night at his home in the District, Tobias, a former chief executive of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., declined to discuss the circumstances of his resignation, saying he would "stick with the statement the State Department released today."
According to ABC News, Tobias said he contacted the escort service "to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage" and that there had been "no sex" involved.
In a memo yesterday to the USAID staff, James R. Kunder, acting deputy USAID administrator, called the resignation "shocking news" and urged workers not to be "distracted from our developmental and emergency work."
Within minutes of McCormack's announcement, Tobias's biography was removed from the USAID Web site.
State Department officials declined to comment further on the reasons for Tobias's resignation.
"I'm sad today," said one person close to Tobias. "The president loves him and Condi absolutely loves him."
White House officials said Rice briefed Bush on the matter early yesterday before he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The president "was saddened and disappointed and wished Dr. Tobias and his family well," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who operated the escort service, was indicted on federal racketeering charges in February and has threatened to expose her high-profile client list.