Top foreign aid official resigns in escort scandal

Published April 28, 2007

WASHINGTON - The head of the Agency for International Development, Randall Tobias, resigned abruptly Friday for what he said were "personal reasons, " but an administration official said Tobias' name had come up in an investigation of a suspected Washington prostitution ring.

On Friday night, ABC News said Tobias confirmed Thursday that he was a customer of an escort service.

A woman from Vallejo, Calif., Deborah J. Palfrey, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she operated a call-girl service in Washington, and has threatened on her Web site to sell her client list to raise money for her defense. ABC News reported that Palfrey had given the network thousands of phone numbers of clients.

On her Web site, Palfrey asserted that her service, doing business as Pamela Martin and Associates, "functioned as a high-end adult fantasy firm which offered legal sexual and erotic services across the spectrum of adult sexual behavior."

Tobias, 65, told ABC that he used the service for massages, not sex, according to the network's Web site.

The State Department referred questions to Tobias' personal office in Indianapolis. He could not be reached.

Tobias is a former chairman and chief executive of Eli Lilly & Co. and of AT&T International.

He held two federal titles. President Bush nominated him in July 2003 to lead a $15-billion program to fight AIDS worldwide. As director of U.S. Foreign Assistance, he held the rank of ambassador.

In January 2006, Bush said he would nominate Tobias to be the administrator of the Agency for International Development. That position gave him the rank of deputy secretary of state.