Former Education Department assistant secretary Anne Graham, now a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, routinely used government employes and government cars for personal errands while at the Education Department, according to a government investigation.
The investigation by the General Accounting Office found that Graham used employes to buy liquor, pick up her dry cleaning and maintain her personal checkbook. The GAO also found that "Mrs. Graham permitted and participated in the consumption of alcoholic beverages in her office, generally after 6:00 p.m.," in possible violation of federal regulations.
Graham declined to comment on the GAO report yesterday.
A copy of the report was made available to The Washington Post by an interested party who has been a frequent critic of Graham.
The 20-page report was based on interviews with 32 past and present employes, as well as inspections of Graham's daily schedules and government motor vehicle dispatch records. It is unusual for the GAO to investigate the personal conduct of a presidential appointee.
Some of Graham's senate supporters criticized the probe as politically motivated, pointing out that it cost the GAO $57,000 to produce what they said were minor charges.
The probe was requested last November by Reps. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) after Reagan nominated Graham, a well-connected conservative who had worked for White House adviser Lyn Nofziger, to an open seat on the commission. She was confirmed Dec. 17.
"I assume that the GAO report will lead the Department of Education's inspector general to conduct their own investigation," Weiss said yesterday. A Waxman aide said he had no comment on the report.
One congressional source said yesterday that at least one member of Congress was considering asking the Justice Department to investigate whether Graham committed perjury when she told GAO investigators that she could not recall using government cars for personal errands.
Graham told the investigators that she made arrangements with two education department employes to work on her checkbook on their own time, for pay, according to the report. She said that one employe was compensated, but the other refused compensation.
But the employes involved contradicted Graham, according to the report, saying that they never discussed compensation with Graham and never were told not to maintain her checkbook during working hours. One employe told the GAO that she worked on Graham's personal checkbook for a year and a half, always during the workday, and that Graham knew it.
The investigators also questioned Graham about a trip on April 23, 1985, in a government car to Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW. The car took her there at 1:50 p.m. and returned to the Education Department at 3:53. Graham's schedule for that same day showed a 2 p.m. hairdresser's appointment at that address.
Graham told the investigators that she must have had an official function at the same location, and said that she could not remember using a car for personal business.
When the GAO began its investigation, Graham's supporters said the allegations were rumors started by Democrats hoping to embarrass the White House on another of its nominations in a year that saw several nominees rejected by the Senate or forced to withdraw from consideration. Others said privately that the allegations were being spun by disgruntled former employes whom Graham was forced to fire while at the Education Department.
An Education Department spokesman said yesterday, "Anne Graham provided highly valuable service during her tenure as the department's assistant secretary for legislation and public affairs . . . . We are pleased that the GAO's report, based on its exhaustive review, contains no significant evidence of intentional wrongdoing and clears Ms. Graham of most of the anonymous allegations that had been made against her."