(Photo via Johnson Cameraface.)
Well, well, well…what do we have here:
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….
The committee's examination of the Jan. 26 videoconference could raise questions about the role of Jennings, the White House official who works for Rove.
Jennings's name has recently surfaced in investigations of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys around the country. He communicated with Justice Department officials concerning the appointment of Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide, as U.S. attorney in Little Rock, according to e-mails released this month. For that exchange, Jennings, although working at the White House, used an e-mail account registered to the Republican National Committee, where Griffin had worked as a political opposition researcher.
Jennings is a longtime political operative from Kentucky. He served as political director for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2002 before joining the White House. (emphasis mine)
Let's take a step backward to last week when we talked about Rove's political shop and "the math," the Bush Administration's long-time history of doling out plum no-bid contracts to their political cronies (and making life miserable for the governmental watchdogs who call them into question), and the gutting of long-time civil servant positions to make room for a packed house of political hacks and the children of cronies?
And where, exactly, do you think Mr. Jennings got the idea to encourage civil servants in the Government Services Office to go out and open governmental buildings and scurry about doing any and everything they could to help "our candidates" in the upcoming election? Hmmmmm? Funny that he worked in Rove's political shop at the White House, isn't it?
And let's take a little time to think about all those questions about RNC and other outside e-mail usage — which would not, of course, be an attempt to end-run legal requirements to save any and all official correspondence for review out of the West Wing, now would it? (Let alone raising questions about national security issues from the use of outside servers.) Because the Presidential Records Act of 1978 says that these records are the property of the American public, not the Bush White House — whatever the acolytes of the unilateral executive may think about not having to answer to anyone, that is the law.
And this White House has already run into just these sorts of questions from Patrick Fitzgerald — remember this?
But the prosecutor added: "In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system."
Sounds to me like there is a pattern of behavior and an intersection of tactics on this outside e-mail usage, the politicization of governmental agencies to further an electoral agenda, and Karl Rove's political shop at the White House that needs a whole lot more public scrutiny and sunshine. How about you? A good start will be on Wednesday, when the folks from this GSA mess will be required to testify before Rep. Waxman's committee. Don't know about you all, but I am sensing some pretty interesting questions. I know I'm asking a whole lot of them about Mr. Jennings and Mr. Rove this morning.
Here's to a whole lot of sunshine and disinfectant. Can't think of a group of people who need it more.