Friends in high places

Along with the recent scandal at the Smithsonian over former director Lawrence Small’s use of Smithsonian money to, among other things, pay for repairs...

Along with the recent scandal at the Smithsonian over former director Lawrence Small’s use of Smithsonian money to, among other things, pay for repairs and remodeling at his mansion in Woodley Park (he was simply using his house for official functions, he said), another Washington institution, the World Bank, has also had a low-grade scandal burning for several weeks.

Bush-appointed World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy defense secretary under Donald Rumsfeld, is being accused of violating conflict-of-interest rules at the bank by arranging for his girlfriend and fellow World Bank employee, one Shaha Riza, to get a temporary assignment at the State Department with a salary higher than the secretary of state herself, Condoleezza Rice.

Wolfowitz had previously been declining to comment on the matter (though it was discussed at length here), which is being investigated by a specially appointed committee. But now he has issued a statement apologizing in a rather unspecific way for his actions. This comes shortly after the Financial Times reported on the discovery of a memo by Wolfowitz providing details on how Riza should be paid, how much, the circumstances of her transfer to State, and so on, as the Washington Post reports.

Surely this counts as another example of how not to handle a corporate or organizational controversy. If there was something to apologize for, why did it take several weeks (and many media reports)?

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