Corruption Overload: GSA, Abramoff and the Road to Rove
Xan, keep working those emails. I'll let Laura do the talking:
WP: GSA chief is accused of playing politics, potentially violating the Hatch Act:
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."
There've been so many stories that demonstrate an overwhelming pattern of federal institutions being used improperly for partisan ends, from alleged White House debates on federalizing the response to Katrina in Louisiana because the governor was Democratic, to the current Justice Department scandal, to this. The Hatch Act does not impose prison sentences, but federal officials accused of violating could lose their job, the Post writes.And Jennings' name may sounds familiar:
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.
After Jennings and Doan spoke during the videoconference, one regional GSA administrator offered the suggestion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could be excluded from the opening of an environmentally efficient federal courthouse in San Francisco, which Pelosi represents, according to Waxman's letter. GSA manages the nation's federal courthouses. ...
Jennings declined to comment Friday and referred questions to the White House media affairs office. White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Jennings did not ask GSA officials to help Republican candidates and described Jennings's presentation as "a factual assessment of the political landscape."
Thursday will be busy on the Hill, with GSA chief Doan appearing before Waxman's committee, and fired Alberto Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson testifying before the Judiciary committee. And Sampson's attorney? A former associate White House counsel for GWB43. Who presumably worked closely with his boss, then White House counsel -- Alberto Gonzales, and of course, White House political chief, Karl Rove. "At the White House, Mr. Berenson’s responsibilities included work on judicial selection, executive privilege, and responses to congressional oversight efforts. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he played a significant role in the executive branch’s counterterrorism response. He worked on the USA Patriot Act, the military order authorizing the use of military commissions, detainee policy and anti-terrorism litigation..." Even Sampson's attorney has served the White House political masters. Interesting to note that Sampson's attorney also clerked for the man mentioned by Bill Kristol Sunday as a desirable Gonzales replacement, Laurence Silberman.
More: Sam Rosenfeld reminds readers that former GSA chief of staff David Safavian is currently facing an 18 month sentence for his involvement in the Abramoff scandal.
Waxman is going to be a very, very busy man for the next few years.