Federal investigators target Bush official in probe
An independent federal investigative agency is targeting a Bush administration official for using her position for political purposes, ABC News's The Blotter is reporting.
"The Office of Special Counsel confirmed to ABC News it has launched an investigation into General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan," writes Blotter's Justin Rood, "probing concerns she may have violated a ban against conducting partisan political activity at government expense by participating in a meeting featuring a presentation by a White House political aide on GOP election strategy."
RAW STORY previously reported that Doan hosted a GSA briefing at which J. Scott Jennings, deputy to top White House adviser Karl Rove, gave a presentation (slides available here) that reviewed results from the 2006 election and "outlined the Republican Party's top electoral targets in upcoming federal and state elections."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, felt the presentation, along with Doan's remarks, may have been a violation of the Hatch Act, which the OSC now appears to be investigating.
Doan's agency helps to support the basic infrastructure of federal agencies, spending "over $56 billion a year on paper clips, office space, car fleets and other necessities for federal agencies," writes Rood.
"Doan has told Congress she doesn't recall making the statement," he continues, "and other witnesses interviewed by congressional investigators are said to have backed her up."
Yet, Rood reports, Doan "may not have been the only top official to host a White House political official" at a federal agency.
Rood quotes the book One Party Country: "Rove and [former Bush campaign chief and one-time Republican National Committee head Ken] Mehlman ventured to nearly every cabinet agency to share key polling data ... and to deliver a reminder of White House priorities, including the need for the president's allies to win in the [2002 midterm elections]."
Excerpts from the Blotter article, available in full at this link, follow...
Doan has also faced scrutiny from Congress and her agency's own internal watchdog on unrelated matters, including concerns over a GSA service order involving a company connected to one of Doan's friends.
Some believe those meetings are cause for further investigation by Congress and the Office of Special Counsel. "They should be looking at whether this particular meeting is part of a larger pattern and practice of violating the Hatch Act," said Melanie Sloan, director of the left-leaning government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The Hatch Act prohibits government resources – including employees' time or space in a government building – from being used for partisan politics.
On Wednesday, [Waxman's] office asked the Republican National Committee to turn over any e-mails in its possession relating to such briefings.
In a statement e-mailed to ABC News, a GSA spokeswoman said that Doan was "fully complying" with the OSC probe, and that the organization could not comment further on an open investigation. An OSC official confirmed that the probe was begun before Waxman's hearing last week.