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).

Paging Congressman Waxman, Part 2

On Monday I reported that government employees spent thousands outside of the offical procurement process. Well, Hope Yen of the AP has written a follow-up story, revealing that the improper purchases go beyond the VA and Homeland Security. Unauthorized purchases occurred at the GSA as well. Remember, the GSA is the government's procurement agency, manging government real estate, buying government cars, and responsible for buying all technology hardware and office supplies. It's not thousands anymore, it's millions of dollars wasted.

Didn't Congressman Waxman call for GSA chief administrator Lauita A. Doan to resign a year ago?

Paging Congressman Waxman, Part 1

Oh, dear:

Investigators review VA credit charges

Seems a few bad apples at the VA partied in Baltimore and Vegas while vets are waiting for care. Surprised? But this bit was interesting as well:

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the GAO estimated that 45 percent of Homeland Security purchase card spending during a six-month period was improper and included iPods, designer rain jackets and beer-making equipment. The credit-card bills are directly payable by Uncle Sam.

Heads need to roll over this. Oh sure, it's just thousands and not billions. Whatever. And surely this sort of thing will happen under the future Democratic president as well. But this simply does not look good in the context of supporting anyone's troops.

New Leads On J. Scott Jennings And The January 26th Presentation At The GSA

J. Scott Jennings, who yesterday told the Senate Judicial Committee that he is only 29 years old, might not have expected a line of questions from Ted Kennedy about the January 26th presentation at the GSA headquarters. Nice work, Ted. Henry Waxman has some juicy new leads to follow. Indeed the GOP PowerPoint presentation was shown in other federal buildings where partisan/political activity is prohibited.

Highlights of Lurita A. Doan Testimony from NancyPelosi / C-SPAN 3

Thanks to YouTube political video guru, NancyPelosi, we have videos of Doan's testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing lasted from 10am until about 2pm. Cold beers go out to Massachusetts congressman John F. Tierney and Iowa congressman Bruce Braley. Nice work, gentlemen. You nailed her as much as you could in 15 combined minutes of questioning.

Henry Waxman opens the hearing.

Waxman explains that this is not a partisan witch hunt.

Tierney! Tierney! Tierney! He did a great job. A son of Salem. He gets a cold beer from MLH. Symbolically, anyway.

Waxman's turn. Inconsistencies are illuminated.

Bruce Braley's second and final round of questions. Outstanding work. It was clear that Lurita Doan and the Republicans on the committee were sharing the same talking points. Braley clears the record that Administrator Doan met with the Republican congressmen prior to the hearing. Despite spending some time on preparation, the Republicans on the committee (led by Tom Davis) called the hearing a waste of time. They repeatedly charged the democrats of harassing an African-American Republican woman for no other reason than who she is. And also they made fun of the hearings, mocked Chairman Waxman, and charged him of not taking their investigations of Clinton fundraising seriously 10 years ago (they mentioned John Huang). Administrator Doan seemed to be playing with the Democratic congressmen all day. Doan occasionally took mild shots at the questions she received. Her use of the word 'abusing' here is a case in point. She heard Mr. Braley's question the first time. And the key moment in the entire hearing is here. Braley points out that the bulk of the OSC investigation is complete. He asks Doan to confirm that the GSA hosting of the PowerPoint presentation was a violation of the Hatch Act. Thanks to his very quick thinking, he states on the record that Administrator Doan is handed a document and confers with her counsel while the question is being asked. I have never seen that done so swiftly in a congressional hearing before. Score a lot of points for Bruce Braley. A cold beer for you, sir.

Waxman closes the hearing. He points out that Administrator Doan's testimony on March 28th was not complete. She witheld information from Congress that she later testified before the OSC. Waxman asks Doan to resign, which won't happen, of course.

You can tell Lurita A. Doan about how you feel about her lies and her wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars and misuse of federal real estate and resources. She's at

Office of Special Counsel: Laurita A. Doan Should Be Fired By the President

Image ripped from Crooks and Liars.

Well, I've been saying this since March. According to a report from the Bush-appointed (and independant) Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Lurita Doan broke the law. She arranged for a White House congressional election strategy presentation to be shown in a conference room at GSA headquarters during lunchtime on a business day (Friday, January 26th). That's a mouthful, but it means that she knowingly or unknowingly violated the Hatch Act, which forbids government resources or government employee time to be used on behalf of any political party. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been all over this, and has investigated Doan's actions since January 1 2007.

There are witnesses who have sworn under oath that following the PowerPoint presentation, Ms. Doan asked the 35 other people in the room, "How can we help our candidates?" "We" would be the GSA, and "our" would be the GOP.

Chairman Henry Waxman has invited Lurita Doan to testify again to explain the results of the OSC investigation. She will appear before the committee at 10:00 EDT. I'm surprised she has agreed to return, given how disastrous and potentially incriminating her first appearance was in March. Maybe that's just how arrogant GOP political appointees act. She was appointed as head of the GSA in May 2006 after she and her husband donated tens of thousands of dollars to the RNC and other Republican party groups and elections. As I wrote in my e-mail to her, she was on the job for less than a year and was intimately involved in two scandals. Well done!

Down with Tyranny has a great summary on the latest developments. The presentation that Administrator Doan arranged to be shown was produced by the White House political office (Karl Rove's office). We can count on Henry Waxman reminding his colleagues of Rove's role this morning.

If she is really going to appear before Waxman's committee and repeat that she didn't realize she was violating the Hatch Act because she was too busy opening and replying to 200 e-mails on her blackberry, then this is going to be fun.

Recall how Doan was burned by Congressman Braley in March:

The hearing is on! See it here if you have Windows Media Player:

The Rove PowerPoint Presentation Scandal: More Blood in the Water

News from last week. Chairman Waxman has been asking the right questions. It seems that the White House has acknowledged that the GOP Strategy PowerPoint presentation shown at the GSA headquarters in January has been shown in other Federal agencies. Again, the presentation itself is not illegal. But showing it inside Federal buildings, during business hours, in an attempt to solicit assistance in electing Republicans to Congress is.

GSA Scandals Update: Doan to be Investigated

Image ripped from Crooks and Liars.

Justin Roos of ABC News Blogs reports that
the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has opened an investigation of the alleged Hatch Act violation within the GSA. The OSC is an independent investigative agency that is designed to protect whisleblowers and identify what they call Prohibited Personnel Practices (PPP). (Isn't bureaucracy grand?). But what's interesting is that the OSC also looks for violations of the Hatch Act, the very law Ms. Lauita A Doan is suspected to have broken this past January. Doan's office is cooperating. I can only hope this eventually gets escalated to the DOJ.

A lot of dots are being connected by investigative journalists and members of of Waxman's committee, showing that the Hatch Act may have been violated throughout Bush's presidency, and they weren't just honest mistakes. According to Justin Ross, some of the violations are explained in a book from last year, One Party Country, by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten. According to their investigation, the White House political office has presented GOP party strategy within several agencies, not just the GSA. As Henry Waxman suspected, this might be a pattern. Arrogance and hubris are no excuse for not knowing about the Hatch Act.

I am speculating here, but based on what I have read so far, there are fundamental laws which the GSA needs to follow in its processes, such as Federal Contract Compliance (probably their most critical), the Patriot Act, the No FEAR Act (whistleblower protection), the Freedom of Information Act, and the Hatch Act, to name a few.

Waxman Probes Deeper into the GOP Strategy Presentation at the GSA

Following-up on the hearings last week, which revealed details of a GOP 2008 congressional election strategy presentation shown at GSA headquarters in January, the House's most ferocious investigator, Henry Waxman, has two more leads to pursue.

First, it was revealed that those involved in the logistics of the presentation worked in the White House political office (Karl Rove's world). But instead of using their '' email accounts, they used the account, which is owned by the RNC. So assuming the RNC email servers are up to industry standards, they should have these emails available to give to the committee. Hell, even if the weasels used Gmail accounts, I would think Waxman would try to get a warrant to send the FBI to Google. Note to the NSA - that's a warrant. Waxman is an SOB, but he plays by the rules.

Second, the sheer resistance and squirming by Lurita A. Doan has only perked Waxman's interest. If a PowerPoint presentation made its way to a GSA conference room, and the GSA is a relatively unknown agency (unless you're savvy like me, and you have checked their used car sales page in the past), then in what other agencies was this presentation shown, if any?

There will be plenty more to follow. In the meantime, this is what I wrote to Ms. Doan last week:

Subject: Less than a year on the job...

...and you were intimately involved in at least two GSA scandals? What is it with you Republicans that you think you can get away with these infractions? I’m glad Henry Waxman caught onto you, and I hope the Department of Justice investigates you. You would be a worthy addition to a Federal prison.

From this morning's Washington Post:

Waxman Seeks RNC E-Mail on Use of Federal Resources

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2007; A06

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) told the Republican National Committee yesterday to turn over copies of any electronic messages from White House officials that relate to the use of federal resources or agencies for partisan Republican purposes.

Waxman's broadly worded request came a week after he asked the RNC and the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign to retain copies of e-mails being sent by White House officials via Republican Party e-mail accounts, a practice that surfaced in the course of the Democrats' probe into the administration's decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys.

Several deputies to senior White House adviser Karl Rove used such e-mail accounts to discuss the firings, and Waxman said that made the messages official government documents subject to his committee's jurisdiction.

Waxman's letter said he is particularly seeking documents relevant to his investigation of possible misconduct at the General Services Administration, where one of Rove's deputies briefed several dozen senior political appointees in January about key congressional seats that the party hopes to win or retain in the 2008 elections.

After the presentation, GSA officials told congressional investigators, GSA Administrator Lurita A. Doan asked how the agency's resources could be used to help "our candidates" in the election. Doan has said she does not recall the episode, which is now being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that enforces prohibitions on improper political conduct by government employees.

Waxman said Doan's statement had provoked his interest in learning more about how the political briefing was organized and whether it was given to other government officials.

He asked that the messages be turned over by April 18.

A spokeswoman for the RNC, Tracey Schmitt, said, "We have received the letter and will be in touch with the committee as appropriate."

How do You Spell P-E-R-J-U-R-Y ?

Following-up on yesterday's hearing from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, it is clear that a US Attorney would have an easy time convicting Lurita A. Doan for up to three offenses:

1. Violation of the Hatch Act. She permitted a Republican political strategy presentation to be held at GSA headquarters on government time, at the taxpayer's expense. And to make matters worse, those behind the presentation used email servers outside the .gov domain. Apparently, avoidance of email use is the new MO among White House staff. On Wall Street, such covert communication is illegal, and would spark an investigation by the SEC.

2. Willful approval of an IT service contract rife with pricing errors and discounts that were promised but never given. The 2006-2009 contract with Sun Microsystems will cost the American taxpayers over $20 Million that did not have to be spent. I asume that would fall as a general 'corruption' charge.

3. Perjury. Her blanket denials yesterday are borderline perjury. If she had denied a fact and then attributed an action to someone else (if she wrongly pointed a finger), then a perjury charge would be a slam-dunk.

Henry Waxman just keeps kicking ass. His committee hit one out of the park yesterday. Hopefully, the Inspector General and Department of Justice will perform due dilligence in investigating Ms. Doan.

Many thanks to YouTube user, NancyPelosi, for making these videos pubically available.

Mankind Invented Popcorn for This

1. Congressman Henry Waxman's Oversight and Government Reform committee is on a roll. Today, he and his colleagues grilled one of the most corrupt senior managers in the Federal government, Lurita A. Doan.

You might be shocked that she agreed to appear under oath, considering the trap that Congressman Braley had set out for her today. It's a textbook examination of a witness under oath. The discussion centers around a 13-page PowerPoint presentation laying out Republican political strategy win-back majority rule in the US House of Representatives in 2008. There's nothing wrong with the presentation file itself. It comes from Karl Rove's office, which is officially known as the White House Office of Political Affairs.

But then comes the kicker (and a yet another new scandal). The presentation was given to General Service Administration (GSA) management this past January. The GSA is supposed to be nonpartisan, and it is forbidden from engaging in activity that benefits any single political party (as per the Hatch Act). GSA oversees Federal real estate, building maintenance, a portion of government automobiles, and they oversee contracts for office supplies and other consumables used by the entire Federal Government. Founded in 1949, GSA manages office expenses and is the procurement agency of most Federal agencies.

Braley blows the lid off the scandal. And Doan is unintentionally hilarious. The shit gets deeper with each passing minute (video is 10 minutes).

2. Crooks and Liars has a good update regarding the turmoil at the Department of Justice. It is deteriorating their management team.