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Bush appointee splits time between Labor Department, TV punditry

Michael Roston
Published: Monday August 14, 2006

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A government official appointed to the Labor Department has spoken as a conservative pundit on multiple talk shows, RAW STORY has learned. Her TV commentary may point to a conflict of interest while she earns a government paycheck.

While the Labor Department has stated that it fails to see any conflicts of interest in her TV commentary, a review of Czarnecki's responsibilities and her TV appearances would seem to dispute that claim.

In addition to her work as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Czarnecki has served since 2003 as the Director of the Office of 21st Century Workforce, according to the Labor Department's Key Personnel List. The Office describes its mission as ensuring "that all American workers have the opportunity to equip themselves with the necessary tools to succeed in their careers and in whatever field they choose in this new and dynamic global economy." During Czarnecki's tenure, the Office has dealt heavily with women in the workforce.

In the Washington Post's "In the Loop" gossip column, Al Kamen revealed that Karen Czarnecki, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the US Department of Labor, has also made appearances on a number of TV programs as a conservative commentator. Kamen reported that she has addressed such topics as intelligent design and election returns. Czarnecki has served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, and joined George W. Bush's government in 2001, according to the Labor Department website.

The Labor Department told the Post that there was no conflict of interest, as the issues she addressed were not directly relevant to her work for the government. They explained "Ms. Czarnecki involves herself as an active citizen on her own time engaging in activities that any citizen engages in...It's no different than a person on the street doing a TV interview on Election Day."

Czarnecki appears frequently as a conservative commentator on the PBS program To The Contrary, which describes itself as seeking "to provide an important, timely forum for women to discuss national and international issues and policies." The 2006 program list for the PBS series shows Czarnecki frequently serving as a panelist on episodes that included a number of topics related to the subject matter of the Office of the 21st Century Workforce, such as the following:

  • "Why some qualified men [are] opting out and staying home";

  • "Young Women & Success: Generation X and Y women have the ambition it takes to be successful?";

  • "Paid Family Leave: New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney talks about what she calls her 'family-friendly' bill that would give federal workers six weeks of paid family leave";

  • "Mothers and Girlfriends: Working Mother magazine's Carol Evans explains why female friends are an important resource for working moms";

  • "Mars, Venus, and Money: When it comes to family finances, a new survey finds men and women seem to live on different planets";

  • "Discriminating Factor: Some women's rights advocates fear anti-discrimination policies are under assault."
  • Raw Story did not review transcripts of the programs and cannot remark on the extent to which Czarnecki commented on topics during a multi-subject program that may be related to her government work.

    Kamen's original story can be accessed at the Washington Post's website.