Deputy Secretary of State resigns after admitting escort link
'Condi loves him,' friend tells Washington Post
WASHINGTON -- Deputy Secretary of State Randall Tobias submitted his resignation Friday after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington escort service, multiple media outlets reported Friday.
Tobias, 65, stated "that he must step down" from his post "effective immediately," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement Friday that did not disclose the escort service link.
"He is returning to private life for personal reasons," the statement added.
Within minutes, Tobias's biography was deleted from the USAID Web site, the Washington Post reported on Saturday's front pages.
ABC's "Blotter" reported that Tobias told the network Thursday "he had several times called the 'Pamela Martin and Associates' escort service 'to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage.' Tobias, who is married, said there had been 'no sex,' and that recently he had been using another service 'with Central Americans' to provide massages."
"Tobias' private cell number was among thousands of numbers listed in the telephone records provided to ABC News by Jeane Palfrey, the woman dubbed the 'D.C. Madam,' who is facing federal charges," ABC said. "In an interview to be broadcast on 20/20 next Friday, Palfrey says she intends to call Tobias and a number of her other prominent D.C. clients to testify at her trial."
"I'm sad today," said one person close to Tobias, according to Saturday's Washington Post. "The president loves him and Condi absolutely loves him."
Tobias was also director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Tobias' tenure was strongly criticized at a hearing in the US House of Representatives in March, especially by California Democrat Tom Lantos, who was angered by USAID's role in the West Bank and Gaza, Russia and India.
USAID, founded in 1961, is the US government agency in charge of sending humanitarian aid to disaster situations around the world.
Until he took the USAID post in January 2006, Tobias was responsible for coordinating the US government's international HIV/AIDS assistance efforts.
Before entering government Tobias served as chairman, president and chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company.
READ THE FULL ABC NEWS 'BLOTTER' STORY HERE.
With Wire Services.
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.
Palfrey has contended that her escort service provided clients with college-educated women who engaged in legal, sexual game-playing for $275 per 90-minute session in their homes or hotel rooms. Prosecutors allege she ran a prostitution ring.
Palfrey's attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said yesterday that he has been contacted in the past few days by five lawyers asking whether their client's phone numbers are on Palfrey's list of 10,000 to 15,000 customers from 2002 to 2006. Some have also asked about whether an accommodation can be made to avoid identifying their clients, which Sibley said he is not able to promise. ABC's "20/20" is mining that database of phone numbers, Sibley said, for a news report on the more notable of Palfrey's customers.
"I presume '20/20' crews running around with cameras has led to this flurry of activity," Sibley said. "That may cause some people to worry."