Friday, April 27, 2007

Bush , Rove & Republican Party Briefings

The ties between the White House and the Republican Party are far too close! In theory a political party should have zero interaction in the actual functions of the government. That is structure of United States government. In my opinion all government officials and GOP Party members involved in these unethical questionable 'meetings' should be placed under criminal investigation inaddition to being suspended immediately from their post.

Source: The New York Times 04/27/2007
WASHINGTON, April 26 -- The Bush administration insisted Thursday that a series of meetings between senior White House political aides and officials at government agencies to discuss Congressional elections did not violate a law that prohibits the use of federal departments for political purposes.

White House officials acknowledged that aides to Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, held about 20 briefings in the past two years with officials at 16 departments to discuss Republican political strategies, including which Congressional Democrats were being singled out for defeat and which Republicans were most vulnerable.
Included in the briefings were the Treasury, Labor, Commerce, Interior and Energy Departments.

But administration spokesmen said the discussions did not violate the Hatch Act, the law that makes it illegal for government employees to take action that could influence an election. They said the White House officials did not make any requests for the agencies to take any specific actions but were simply imparting details about political strategy.

''It is perfectly lawful for the political appointees at the White House to provide information briefings to political appointees at the agencies,'' said Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman. ''No laws were broken.'' Ms. Perino said the White House officials did not intend to tell agency employees to take steps to help Republican candidates or hurt Democratic lawmakers.

The briefings were cleared by lawyers from the White House counsel's office, said a second spokesman, Scott Stanzel. He said the lawyers provided guidance to the White House political aides, J. Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor, about how to conduct the briefings and comply with the Hatch Act. Mr. Stanzel said that Mr. Rove had also spoken occasionally to agency officials ''about the political landscape'' and said that his briefings were also within the law.
The denials left Democratic lawmakers unconvinced. They said Thursday that they would press for details about the meetings, which were first reported by The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

The meetings are also under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel, an obscure federal agency whose head, Scott J. Bloch, is himself under investigation over accusations of politicizing his agency.

Mr. Stanzel said the briefings by the White House officials included presentations about Democrats that the White House was hoping to unseat and Republicans who faced difficult re-elections.
The meetings have come under scrutiny after details became known about a session this year that Democrats contend may have violated the law.
On Jan. 26, Mr. Jennings briefed employees at the General Services Administration about which Democratic members of Congress the Republican Party hoped to unseat in 2008 and which Republican lawmakers were vulnerable. Officials who attended that briefing have told Congressional investigators that at the conclusion of the meeting, the agency's administrator, Lurita Alexis Doan, asked how the agency could be used ''to help our candidates. '' Ms. Doan has said she does not recall making the remark.

This week, 25 Democratic senators sent a letter to the White House asking for details on the G.S.A. briefing, and two Democrats, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, called for Ms. Doan's resignation. They said she had committed a series of ethical lapses. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the issuance of a subpoena to the Republican National Committee for information about the political briefings.
On Thursday, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House committee, wrote to the agencies seeking information about the briefings.
''The information we received about the G.S.A. was pretty shocking, and I think if I could ever imagine what a Hatch Act violation would be, that would be about as close as it gets,'' Mr. Waxman said in an interview. But he said he did not know whether the other meetings violated the law.

''The briefings in and of themselves may not be a violation, and that is why they are now under investigation by the Office of Special Counsel,'' he said.
Legal experts said that the Hatch Act permits White House officials to talk about upcoming elections and political strategy generally, but it would prohibit any official from taking steps to influence an election.

''Merely holding a briefing on government property that discusses election results or upcoming elections would not, in and of itself, be considered 'political activity' and so would not violate the Hatch Act,'' said Elaine Kaplan, a former head of the Office of Special Counsel in the Clinton and Bush administrations. ''If, however, the meetings digressed into discussions about future campaigns or actions that could be taken to help candidates win elections, it could become 'political activity.' ''

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