Monday, March 26, 2007

All roads lead to Rove: Part II in a continuing series

The Washington Post reports in the Monday edition that Congressman Waxman’s Oversight Committee has summoned GSA (Government Services Administration) Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan to answer questions about some events that transpired on Jan. 26, where she and J. Scott Jennings, a deputy in Karl Rove's political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference with top GSA political appointees, and it was discussed how Republican candidates could be assisted.

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.

Waxman said in the letter that the remarks made during the videoconference have been confirmed by "multiple sources." Congressional investigators have taken statements from GSA employees and others in recent weeks.

The planned hearing is part of an expanding examination by Waxman's committee of Doan's tumultuous 10-month tenure as administrator of the GSA. The government's leading procurement agency annually handles about $56 billion worth of federal contracts.

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. (emphasis mine)

But it doesn’t stop there…

It also seems apparent that Doan engaged in other impropriety as well. For instance, she spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to give a no-bid contract to a friend of hers who steered her through her confirmation process to assume the directorship of GSA.

Waxman's investigation began in response to a Jan. 19 story in The Washington Post about a no-bid job Doan tried to give to firms run by Edie Fraser, a veteran Washington public relations executive who had served as a paid consultant to Doan. Waxman's investigators concluded that the two women had "a long-standing business relationship" that was not "previously disclosed," according to Waxman's letter.

Between 2003 and 2005, Fraser billed Doan as much as $20,000 a month in consulting fees to "generally promote attributes" of Doan and her company, New Technology Management Inc., according to invoices obtained by The Post. In all, Doan paid at least $417,500 to companies affiliated with Fraser before Doan took over the GSA, according to Waxman's investigators.

Last year, Fraser helped prepare Doan for her GSA confirmation and lined up political support for her, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Post.

On July 25, two months after Doan took office, she took the unusual step of personally signing the no-bid arrangement with Diversity Best Practices and Business Women's Network, firms then run by Fraser, to produce a report about GSA's use of businesses owned by minorities or women. The GSA's general counsel at the time, Alan R. Swendiman, told Waxman's investigators he was "alarmed" that the project was not competitively bid.

Last month, in a letter to Waxman's committee, a senior GSA official called the no-bid arrangement a "procedural mistake." Doan told The Post that she submitted a service order for the work through normal GSA contracting channels and did not focus on it afterward.

But Swendiman, now a special assistant to President Bush, told Waxman's investigators that he "immediately and repeatedly" advised Doan to terminate the arrangement. When he was unable to persuade her, Swendiman directed a GSA contracting officer to terminate the arrangement. The investigators found evidence indicating that Doan continued to try to find ways to award the project to her friend.

So it isn’t just the Department of Justice – it’s the General Services Administration as well – the nations checkbook – that has been corrupted by the tentacles of Karl Rove and his political machinations.

There is nothing sacred to these people. Indeed, those of us who hold sacred ideals seem contemptible to these people. Thankfully, their day seems just about done.


[Originally posted at Watching Those We Chose]

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