Closure For One Bush Scandal

By closure, I only mean a final report. No fines. No prosecutions. Just a very good report from an agency that was itself politicized and arguably corrupted during the Bush 43 administration.

When this little blog was very young, the blatant violations of the Hatch Act by the General Services Administration (GSA) was summarized by a few entertaining posts (hey, the vidoes are still up!).

The GOP political strategy meetings that took place at the GSA during Lauita Doan's leadership were enough to attract an investigtion by Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee and the Office of Special Counsel. Over four years since the agency began its investigation, we finally have a report. And the report provides new information and details I don't think anyone had mentioned publically before.

As some pundits and liberal political junkies may remember, the White House political office (offically known as the Office of Political Affairs), headed by Karl Rove, mobilized government agencies to support Republican midterm congressional campaigns in 2006. It must have made sense at the time. The GOP was expected to lose seats in the House, and probably lose their majority (which they did). This administration was usually very blatent in breaking the law, so this tactic seems to fit the pattern.

Although I am sure there were plenty of young people willing and able to work for GOP campaigns in 2006, Karl Rove saw the value in the political experience of many Federal employees who came to Washington in the wake of George W. Bush's election in 2000. After all, many of them had worked on GOP campaigns in order to be considered for Federal positions in the first place. Also, they must have been assuming that by 2009, most of them would be out of a job, since the President's approval rating tanked after Katrina and all indications were that a Democrat would become the next president.

In an act of arrogance and brazen disregard for Federal law, Karl Rove's team mobilized Federal employees accross 20 agencies with political presentations, requests for campaign volunteers (and in some cases, demands), all in Federal buildings, during business hours - a broad, open violation of the Hatch Act.

The report is intentionally late, designed to protect those who violated the law. It's also safe to assume that several administrations have violated the Hatch Act over the decades. But what we have leanred, thanks to this report, is the extraordinary scale and scope of the offenses by the Bush 43 administration. The offenses were done in the open, under florescent lights, in conference rooms, and in plain sight of of government's Human Resources - the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The OPM must have seen that Federal employees were bring granted paid leave of abscences so that they would work on domed 2006 House campaigns. That's using Federal payroll funds to subsidize and support one party's Congressional campaigns. Hell, the OPM was probably one of the agencies corrupted by these Hatch Act violations.

So really the Bushies had their cake and ate it too. They had job security from 2001 until 2006, and were freely allowed to waste taxpayer money and violate the law. Then, after their 2006 midterm defeats, most of them returned to their desks for the final, quiet, two year stretch.

The full report from the OSC is here (.pdf file).