Swoap Drops Out as Possible Reagan Cabinet Appointee

Times Staff Writer

California Health and Welfare Secretary David B. Swoap said Wednesday that he has withdrawn his name from consideration as a replacement for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler because he wants to earn enough in private employment to pursue his goal of heading an international relief agency.

Widely regarded as a leading candidate for the coveted cabinet post, Swoap, 48, said he has decided to continue with his plans to join a private lobbying and consulting firm in San Francisco on Nov. 1.

"It could have been a chance of a lifetime to serve on a President's cabinet," Swoap said. "But I gritted my teeth and called back (to the White House) and said 'no' " (to a job interview.)

Relief Organization

Despite longstanding rumors that he would jump at the opportunity to head the Health and Human Services agency under Reagan, Swoap said his aim in life is to become financially independent so that he can head an international relief organization. That ambition is an outgrowth of his involvement with a charitable group that provides homes for orphans.

"I've always thought that life shouldn't be a matter of waves washing you up on whatever sandy beach they might carry you to," he said in a recent interview. He added on Wednesday, "The time has come to dive through some of the waves."

When Heckler agreed to Reagan's request to step down from her cabinet post and become U.S. ambassador to Ireland two weeks ago, Swoap had just announced that he was leaving Gov. George Deukmejian's Administration to join Michael V. Franchetti as a partner in a consulting and lobbying firm with offices in San Francisco and Washington. The two men served together in Deukmejian's cabinet, Franchetti as finance director.

Architect of 'Workfare'

As a conservative Reagan loyalist and chief architect of California's newly enacted "workfare" program, which will require large numbers of welfare recipients to take public service jobs, Swoap quickly emerged as a top candidate to replace Heckler.

He was state welfare director in the early 1970s under then-Gov. Reagan. Later, after several years as a congressional staff consultant, he was appointed undersecretary of Health and Human Services when Reagan became President. He returned to California in 1983 when Deukmejian appointed him state Health and Welfare secretary.

Last week, Swoap was invited to Washington for a job interview with White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan. His prospects seemed good, according to one source who spoke on condition he not be identified. But after thinking about it for a couple of days, Swoap declined the invitation.

2nd Prospect Withdraws

Swoap refused to speculate on who might be named to replace Heckler. He said that one frequently mentioned candidate--John Svahn, the President's domestic policy adviser who also served under Reagan in Sacramento--also has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Among others discussed in Washington as possible replacements for Heckler are Los Angeles surgeon Tirso del Junco, a former chairman of the California Republican Party; conservative writer Michael Novak, and Karl Bays, chief executive of the American Hospital Supply Corp.

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