Monday, March 26, 2007

Bush appointee questioned for partisan moves

It will shock everyone to know that yet another Bush appointee is being investigated for improperly intruding politics into government work.

With GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and up to 40 regional administrators on hand, J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs, gave a PowerPoint presentation on Jan. 26 of polling data about the 2006 elections.

When Jennings concluded his presentation to the GSA political appointees, Doan allegedly asked them how they could "help 'our candidates' in the next elections," according to a March 6 letter to Doan from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Waxman said in the letter that one method suggested was using "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country."

Is such politicking by bureaucrats with federal money illegal? Yes, although the only penalty is being fired:

On Wednesday, Doan is scheduled to appear before Waxman's committee to answer questions about the videoconference and other issues. The committee is investigating whether remarks made during the videoconference violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts executive-branch employees from using their positions for political purposes. Those found in violation of the act do not face criminal penalties but can be removed from their jobs.

It's not like this is an isolated incident:

The committee is also expected to question Doan about her attempt to give a no-bid job to a friend and professional associate last summer. In addition, the committee plans to look at Waxman's charge that Doan "intervened" in a troubled technology contract with Sun Microsystems that could cost taxpayers millions more than necessary.

Doan's response is to say she's the subject of a vendetta by the department's inspector general. Possible, of course, but one of the first signs that one's defense is weak is when she refuses to address the issues raised and instead attacks her accuser.

But it goes beyond Doan, because the videoconference, you may have noted, was run by J. Scott Jennings, who works for Karl Rove. Raising the possibility that a trail of politicizing government spending could be traced back to Rove himself. So this particular probe is going to be around for a long, long time.

Should it be?

I get very tired of the fixation among certain Democrats on "getting" Rove. Such relentless focus not only detracts from the legitimacy of any real inquiry -- by suggesting it's yet one more witchhunt -- but it also detracts from more serious business and possibly blinds people to actual wrongdoing, because if it can't be tied to Rove they're less interested in following it up.

If something pops up that leads to Rove, fine. But don't waste the public's time until you've got something more than speculation and maybes.

That said, this particular probe seems justified, even if it's not a blockbuster. If Doan violated the Hatch act, she should be fired. If the trail leads to Rove, the Democrats can do cartwheels. But pursue the wrongdoing where it leads; don't get off track because of a desire to finally nail Rove's hide to the wall.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't "shock" me one bit that yet another Bush administration official is being investigated! It's what the Dems promised back when they took over the majority. They said they would use their supoena powers and investigate the administration and that is exactly what they've done. Their goal is to wield their new powers and get rid of as many Bush administration oficial as they possibly can in these last two years. Anything to try and make Bush look bad.

But as usual---Dems don't think things through very well. They have forgotten that what goes around comes around. Some of the changes they are making and the precedents they are setting---they will not like following one bit if and when a Dem President takes back over. But they will HAVE to follow them.


3/27/2007 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would disagree that the democrats are after Rove. I know he is enemy no1 for them but it looks like everything they are looking at is leading to him. It looks more coincidental than anything.
Perhaps now we know why Rove was so confident that the repubs. will win the election last fall. He had his finger in all the political pies.


3/27/2007 2:00 PM  

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