- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002


Treasury Secretary nominee John W. Snow will resign his membership in Augusta National Golf Club, which has been under fire for not allowing women to join.

Snow, chairman of the transportation and railroad conglomerate CSX, was nominated yesterday by President Bush and must be confirmed by the Senate.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters yesterday morning before Bush's announcement that such a membership would not be a "disqualification" for a nominee.

Three hours later, Fleischer announced that Snow is leaving the club. But, he added: "The president does not judge that to be a disqualifying factor."

Fleischer said Snow "is in the process of stepping down from many of the boards and clubs that he belongs to. In this case, he is resigning his membership there."

White House spokesman Claire Buchan said Snow "is in the process of resigning. It's all part of the process of filling out papers and making courtesy calls."

Augusta National spokesman Glenn Greenspan said the club would have no comment.

"Mr. Snow has done exactly what he should do. No one in the public eye should be willing to be identified with sex discrimination," said Martha Burk, head of the National Council of Women's Organizations (NCWO), which has been leading the fight against Augusta National. "I think he's done exactly the right thing."

She added that Bush should consider potential nominees' club memberships as a factor.

"They would never put forward a candidate of an all-white club, and they should never put forward a member of an all-male club," she said.

Last month, former CBS chief executive Thomas H. Wyman resigned from Augusta National after 25 years, calling the club's stand on female members "pigheaded" and saying up to a quarter of its 300 members feel the same way he does. He was the first member to resign in protest.

Augusta National officials took Wyman's resignation in stride and said the club would not change its position. The club has said it will decide when to admit women on its own schedule and that there will be none admitted by the time of the Masters in April.

The NCWO has campaigned strongly to force a woman to be admitted to Augusta National, a private club that plays host to the world's most prestigious professional golf tournament.

Burk has targeted club members, the companies that sponsor the Masters, and the PGA Tour and its sponsors in an effort to get them to pressure Augusta National to admit women. She also demanded that CBS drop its broadcast of the Masters. CBS refused.

Augusta National Chairman William "Hootie" Johnson steadfastly has said the club's membership would not be dictated by an outside group. Membership to the private club is by invitation only.

"There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet," Johnson wrote in a July letter that first made the dispute public.

In September, Johnson told Masters sponsors Citigroup, Coca-Cola and IBM, the only three companies allowed to purchase TV time during the tournament their support would not be needed in 2003. The move was designed to remove the tournament's sponsors from pressure from Burk.

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