Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rove and the Hatch Act

It isn't real news to my readers that Karl Rove and the rest of BushCo has had a policy to politicize the Agencies of the Federal Government, some of this is fairly ordinary political paybacks in positions that are ordinarily patronage positions and most Agency heads and their deputies. It becomes more worrisome when career positions begin to be politicized, very worrisome when Prosecutors become political tools, and it is horrifying to find the government itself turned into a political arm. In 1939 the Hatch Act was passed in the face of corruption to limit the political activities of the federal government employees and in some cases state and municipal employees. The following activities are prohibited to federal employees in general (there are special cases with more stringent regulations):

use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency
solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations)
be candidates for public office in partisan elections
engage in political activity while:
on duty
in a government office
wearing an official uniform
using a government vehicle
wear partisan political buttons on duty

Enter Lurita Alexis Doan, GSA head, who has had a rather tumultuous 10 month tenure. She began to stir the pot by reducing the budget of the Office of the Inspector General, GSA is the lead procurement agency at $56 billion worth of federal contracts, she handed out a no-bid contract to a former business associate and friend, and finally put on a tele-conference from Rove's office with J Scott Jennings presiding. He is the White House Deputy Director of Political Affairs and the 28 page presentation included 2006 election results and listed the names of Democratic candidates considered beatable and Republican lawmakers thought to need help. This was made to up to 40 Regional Administrators with Doan in attendance, after the presentation Doan asked, "how they could help our candidates in the next elections." Some of the suggested methods involved targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country.

You might wonder who Jennings is and you'd be interested to find that besides working for Karl Rove he was a long time Kentucky political operative including being Sen Mitch McConnel's (R-KY) Political Director. His name has shown up in the firing of the 8 US Attorneys when he used the RNC's email account to urge the appointment of former Rove aide Tim Griffin, an RNC political opposition researcher, to the DOJ for the Arkansas position.

Regarding the Powerpoint presentation to the GSA Scott Stanzel said, "There is regular communication from the White House to political appointees throughout the administration." On the other hand Doan stated to Henry Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee 10 times that she does not recall asking employees to help the GOP or does not recall details about the presentation. She did, however, remember that nothing improper happened. Apparently this is so ordinary in BushCo that it's just slipped her mind, along with the Hatch Act and her use of GSA facilities for a blatantly political activity including asking federal employees to help a political party (um, Republican Party).

This stuff continues to dribble out, like drool from a senile geezer's mouth, disgusting drip after drip. I've stated before that Karl Rove is similar to a criminal thug in his inability to see beyond immediate advantage and short term gains, here it is in all its brilliant stupidity. Rather than pursue the electoral advantage of having policies that benefit the country at large and publicizing them they secretly advance the privileged few and use narrowly effective propaganda tools and administrative tools to gain little. As the President sinks into the approval mire and is considered by a majority to be simply incompetent and by many as nearly criminal, we have his "Brain" on display. I sincerely hope this is an education for political operatives for a long time to come.


KISS said...

The difference is that repugs are arrogant and like to brag over the power they posses. This is not really new, just more blatant. Both parties have used the C.I.A., F.B.I. and Internal Revenue Service etc. etc. etc. forever. This is what power is about. When you have al;l 3 branches under one umbrella bad things happen. FDR would have drooled over having this much power...his supreme court was his only downfall. He chose a lot of independent thinkers, not like Bush appointees.

Chuck Butcher said...

Except in extraordinary cases power available gets used. Lyndon Johnson was one of the toughest players around as Democrats go, but he was a piker compared to RMN & GWB. I think everybody expects some rough and tumble in politics even though we wish Ideas would trump.

I've advocated that the Congress corner GWB over Iraq, tying funding to deadlines regardless of his vetos. This is brinkmanship with the troops as hostage. Short of blackmail this is about as rough as it gets. The Rs tried it on Clinton and got a black eye, but they had much less popular support for their position. Now while they got that black eye, they still were in power until 06 and that was fairly narrow.

When you get to the point of using the arms of the federal government as political enforcement tools you've gone too far and need to be reigned in. This problem is exactly what the Congress ignored with the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and some others.