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Retiring
congressman sees no conflict in leading world AIDS
prevention group

Retiring
congressman sees no conflict in leading world AIDS
prevention group

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has confirmed that Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona is one of five candidates under consideration to become its new executive director.

Kolbe is set to retire at the end of the year after 22 years in Congress. As chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, export financing, and related programs, he helps oversee more than half the United States' contribution to the fund, according to fund spokesman Seth Amgott. The Geneva-based fund receives about one third of its money from the United States.

Spokespeople for both the fund and the congressman said it is not a conflict of interest for him to apply for the job while continuing to serve on the committee. Korenna Cline of Kolbe's office said the committee took up its last foreign operations bill in the spring. On May 25 the committee approved a bill allocating $3.4 billion for the global fight against AIDS, TB, and malaria, including a contribution of $445 million for the Global Fund. In July the fund launched its search for a new executive director. House records show Kolbe accepted $7,226 from the fund to travel to Geneva September 17-19 for a "position interview."

Gary Ruskin of the watchdog group Congressional Accountability Project said he too sees no conflict of interest: "We wish more members of Congress would follow his example instead of becoming hired guns--help people who need help." CAP, however, has said House ethics rules should require more disclosures when members apply for other jobs. Ruskin said Kolbe should say whether he has done anything for the fund since becoming a job candidate. The House Ethics Committee, Cline said, had approved Kolbe's trip to Geneva.

The final decision will be made when the Global Fund's full board meets at the end of the month. The position pays about $173,000 plus a pension. (AP)

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