By: E&P Staff
With the Bush administration already reeling from charges that its Attroney General played politics with U.S. attorney firings, The Washington Post is out today with a front-page story that promises more trouble for the White House, in somewhat the same vein.
The article, by Scott Higham and Robert O’Harrow Jr., opens as follows. The complete report can be found at www.washingtonpost.com.
Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove’s political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.
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.”
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.
Waxman said in the letter that the remarks made during the videoconference have been confirmed by “multiple sources.” Congressional investigators have taken statements from GSA employees and others in recent weeks.