from U.S. arms sales to Iran.
"I was in no way directly or indirectly involved in raising funds for the Nicaraguan resistance," Whittlesey said. She said that the phone calls from North, with whom she had once worked at the White House, were personal.
"I did receive a call from Oliver North," she said, indicating it was in September 1986 when she was in Washington in connection with a Justice Department investigation of her embassy gift fund. "He asked if I needed a lawyer and he inquired about the well-being of my three children."
"Oliver North called again in October to inquire about my family and to inquire about the progress of the (Justice Department) investigation. The calls had nothing to do with this hearing," she said.
Whittlesey said that when she worked in the White House she often arranged for North to brief groups on U.S. policy toward Central America.
Asked by Rep. Chester G. Atkins (D., Mass.) what the CIA station chief in Bern told her about secret Swiss bank accounts used in the Iran-contra affair, Whittlesey said she would only answer in a closed committee session.
"It is not appropriate for me to comment on that in an open hearing," she said. The subcommittee scheduled an executive session for today and asked her to testify then, under oath. The testimony yesterday was not under oath.
Subcommittee chairman Dan A. Mica (D., Fla.) called the hearing to question Whittlesey about her use of an $80,000 embassy entertainment fund that was raised from private donors and whether she had hired senior embassy staff based on their political views.
In December, Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d ruled that there was insufficient evidence to seek an independent counsel in the case. Committee members pointed out that Meese was one of those entertained by Whittlesey with funds privately raised.
Mica said that "some have tried to stop this oversight hearing." He has said he received intense pressure from Cuban-American activists and other conservative Florida constituents who contacted him on Whittlesey's behalf.
"I'm extremely upset at the twist these hearings have taken," Mica said, in reference to calls from influential conservative constituents in his South Florida district. He said that "some of the pressure has been subtle. Some has been less subtle." He said, "There is no vendetta. We're not here to talk about Democrats versus Republican politics, or right versus left. We're here to talk about right versus wrong."
The ambassador, a Republican from Delaware County, Pa., said she had not orchestrated the calls.
But Rep. Peter H. Kostmayer (D., Pa.), a member of the subcommittee on international operations, said, "I have never seen such obvious partisanship," citing lead-off testimony by Rep. Jack F. Kemp (R., N.Y.) in praise of Whittlesey.
Asked by Kostmayer about political pressure being exerted on committee members on her behalf, Whittlesey bristled and replied: "I have been subjected to a campaign of leaks and accusations. . . . While I'm a reasonably
good Christian, I don't relish being led into an arena for the sport of others."
In attempting to explain why she had contacted Jorge Mas, an influential political friend in Miami, she said she had asked him to arrange a meeting with Mica because it was late at night in Bern and "I didn't even have the State Department number" in the embassy residence.
George S. Vest, director general of the Foreign Service, testifed at the hearing that Whittlesey had exerted "very strong pressure . . . extraordinary political pressure" on him to grant a choice assignment to a senior embassy official in Bern who was rotating back to the United States.
Vest said that Whittlesey told him she would call on the White House, the Senate and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, if he didn't accede to her recommendation.
Whittlesey who described the exchange as "a lively discussion," told the committee she did not recall saying she would call anybody about the job assignment.
Whittlesey was also questioned about allegations that she had traded political favors in return for contributions to the embassy entertainment fund. Robert R. Reilly was named to a senior embassy post just days before his father, Frank E. Reilly, contributed $5,000 to the gift fund.
Whittlesey told the committee that she followed established State Department personnel policies on hiring Robert Reilly, and that she did not see that it was improper to accept the contribution because the check was not made out to her and she did not personally handle the fund. In January, the State Department ordered all American embassies to stop accepting private contributions.
"The check in question was not for my personal benefit. It was not made out to me. I did not control the funds," she said. "I thought it was appropriate at that time because I had no control over the funds and the check was not made out to me."
In an interview afterward, Kostmayer said that he was satisfied that Whittlesey did not act illegally, "although at times she demonstrated poor judgment." But, reacting to reports out of Switzerland that Whittlesey has criticized the Swiss government for its humanitarian aid to the ruling Nicaraguan Sandinistas, Kostmayer said that she has "highly politicized our embassy in Switzerland and turned it into a policy arm of the Reagan administration."