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"i honestly don't have a recollection..."
March 28, 2007 3:23 PM   Subscribe

"I do not recall" --meet Lurita Doan, Administrator of the GSA (Our mission is to help other agencies better serve the public by meeting – at best value – their needs for products and services, and to simplify citizen access to government information and services.), and hear about the powerpoint presentation from Rove's office all about electing Republicans in 08 and how her agency should help. Her office supplied it to Congress--but it was just a (GOP) "team-building exercise" and "brown-bag lunch". (YouTube) Read up on the Hatch Act too.
posted by amberglow (54 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is priceless too: ... you could hear GSA Administrator Lurita Doan griping about the investigation and telling one of her people to take her glass, cause she doesn’t want ‘them to have my fingerprints. They’ve got me totally paranoid!‘ ...

and this: ...After the presentation, Doan reportedly asked other employees how the agency could help "our candidates." ...
posted by amberglow at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2007


related full video and docs and pdfs and emails at the House Oversight Ctte site (the powerpoint pdf is listed there as: Full Presentation from January 26, 2007)
posted by amberglow at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2007


The critical portion of Hatch is the part that excludes Presidential employees:

(b)(1) An employee described in paragraph (2) of this subsection may engage in political activity otherwise prohibited by subsection (a) if the costs associated with that political activity are not paid for by
money derived from the Treasury of the United States.
(2) Paragraph (1) applies to an employee--
(A) the duties and responsibilities of whose position continue outside normal duty hours and while away from the normal duty post; and
(B) who is--
(i) an employee paid from an appropriation for the Executive Office of the President; or
(ii) an employee appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, whose position is located within the United States, who determines policies to be pursued by the United States in relations with foreign powers or in the nationwide administration of Federal laws.


I'd like someone to explain the logic of that. Why do my tax dollars pay Karl Rove's salary?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 3:35 PM on March 28, 2007


I'd like someone to explain the logic of that. Why do my tax dollars pay Karl Rove's salary?

Me too.

I'm also wondering how many other Departments and Agencies and Bureaus were running these kinds of meetings during the workday with purely political content direct from Rove's office about getting Republicans elected in 08--I'm betting every single one.
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on March 28, 2007


Actually, here's two efforts at explanation: Slate and CRS.

Anyone want to join me in a campaign to repeal the 1993 exemption that allows White House employees to run election campaign using your tax dollars?
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 3:44 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, so we're all making involuntary campaign contributions to incumbent presidents through our tax dollars. I'd like that money back, please.
posted by mullingitover at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2007


you got it, Randle.

...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. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on March 28, 2007


Heh. I thought CRS was what my daddy used to call his memory loss--"Can't Remember Shit."

Yeah, why aren't these sumbitches heads on pikes? Well, people get the government they deserve.

Here's a bit on memory from CognitiveLiberty.org

But there's a fine line between how much memory is enough and too much. Tim Tully, a memory researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, worries that memory-enhancing medicine taken over a long period of time could result in the storage of too much information.

"Maybe we forget things for a reason," said Tully, who started a company that's designing memory drugs based on his research findings. "Do we want to remember everything that goes on in a given day? Absolutely not."

And he cautioned there might be risks attached to altering the brain's ability to learn and remember. "If you are diabetic, restoring insulin does good things," he said, by comparison. "For normal people, it can do a lot of harm."


Sounds like Lurita Doan want to remember.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:57 PM on March 28, 2007


J. Scott Jennings, the White House's deputy director of political affairs,...
See...now...this is the problem.
WTF does the White House need a Director of Political Affairs? This title seems to literally say that partisan party political operations are an official job in the Executive. At tax payer expense.
Can someone possibly tell me that there are non-partisan political operations, and what they might be?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2007


A quick-edit montage of her testimony: Lurita Doan Has A Horrible Memory (Except About Cookies).
posted by ericb at 4:36 PM on March 28, 2007


Remember when Clinton was questioned in 1997 as to whether or not he made telephone calls soliciting donations from his office in the White House? Same deal. No politicking in or from federal facilities
posted by ericb at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2007


Firedoglake liveblogged it and had this question: ...Truesdale says that the information could not be shared prior to the presentation — "close hold" — that Jennings said it was highly secretive and that they couldn't share it ahead of time. Higgins says that this was closely held because it was sensitive political information — NOT appropriate to use government agencies for political purposes. Why were RNC e-mail addys used to discuss highly sensitive political issues — not WH e-mail addys. ...

This email issue is popping up everywhere.
posted by amberglow at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2007


I don't see how this ends short of prosecuting the entire Republican party under RICO statutes. It's clear the party structure was subverted into becoming a criminal enterprise.
posted by empath at 5:00 PM on March 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


This email issue is popping up everywhere.

Yep.
"In the virtual worlds of computer security, networking, and email, the lines separating the inner workings of the current government in Washington D.C. and the outer world of partisan politics exist only in theory. The recent discovery that top strategists emailed plans for dismissing 8 U.S. Attorneys using accounts on the gwb43.com and georgewbush.com domains, hosted and paid for by the RNC, is just one indication of a much bigger disregard for the necessary separation of government and private industry.

Not only are the lines now blurred, but they became so years ago. Indeed, at the very inception of the Bush Administration, there was an effort to leverage partisan loyalty on the outside to preferred vending inside of dot gov.

The recent stories, diaries and articles surrounding the use of external email servers by senior White House members only scratch the surface. Come along to discover who is behind the dot com twins, georgewbush and gwb43, but be careful not to trip over the line." *
posted by ericb at 5:08 PM on March 28, 2007


And then there's this:

White House Switching to Private Email
"Via Muckraker, U.S. News reports that “just a week after E-mails in the U.S. attorneys case became a main focus of congressional Democrats probing the firings, several aides said that they stopped using the White House system except for purely professional correspondence.” But rather than use RNC accounts, “they have subsequently bought their own private E-mail system through a cellular phone or Blackberry server. When asked how he communicated, one aide pulled out a new personal cellphone and said, ‘texting.’”

UPDATE: Josh Marshall: “[T]his may have been too clever by half. If the president’s aides were using RNC emails or emails from other Republican political committees, they can’t have even the vaguest claim to shielding those communications behind executive privilege.”

UPDATE II: A Laura Rozen reader notes that other federal agencies have apparently banned this practice over security concerns.
posted by ericb at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I looked over the Acrobat file of the Powerpoint presentation. What part of the presentation was about "how her agency should help" Republicans in 2008?
posted by Slap Factory at 5:45 PM on March 28, 2007


I wonder how long their e-mail retention is set for. It's very possible that their system is set to delete e-mails after, say, 90 days. It's also possible that some users have client-side copies of their e-mail, which may or may not automagically delete per server policy.

I'd actually be surprised if they kept highly sensitive e-mails beyond a very short time, 90 days at the most. I've worked with several mid to large companies, and they all have a lawyer-initituted policy of deleting e-mails after X days and deleting *all* non-critical documents after Y days. The reason is that they don't want to have any evidence that can be used against them in civil or criminal court. (Always struck me as goddamn dishonest, willfully and pre-emptively deleting potential evidence.)

But, wow, "a cat up every tree", indeed. (It's a good thing I like cats!)
posted by LordSludge at 5:46 PM on March 28, 2007


What part of the presentation was about "how her agency should help" Republicans in 2008?
That was the point of the whole thing, and directly after the Powerpoint, 6 GOP GSA staffers told Congress that Doan immediately made what the GSA could do the topic.
posted by amberglow at 5:53 PM on March 28, 2007


...Despite this comment, Braley identified six Republican political appointees who were GSA employees who gave sworn statements that Ms. Doan asked at the conclusion of the presentation how the GSA could help Republican candidates.
posted by amberglow at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


> R U up 4 Irn invsn?
> l8r. shootng lwyrs in face 2nite.

Solution for transparency: make 'em all use Twitter!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they flew in all those Regional people for that meeting? (that would have been on our dime too)
posted by amberglow at 6:08 PM on March 28, 2007



I'd actually be surprised if they kept highly sensitive e-mails beyond a very short time, 90 days at the most. I've worked with several mid to large companies, and they all have a lawyer-initituted policy of deleting e-mails after X days and deleting *all* non-critical documents after Y days.


Is that legal? You're supposed to keep business records and correspondence for much longer than 90 days. There are laws about it.
posted by amberglow at 6:10 PM on March 28, 2007


E-Discovery --Knowing What ESI Stands for Isn't Enough
posted by amberglow at 6:16 PM on March 28, 2007


According to Wikipedia, this is not the only thing Doan is under investigation for - there are questions of improprieties in contracts awarded by the GSA.
posted by nanojath at 6:49 PM on March 28, 2007


I don't see how this ends short of prosecuting the entire Republican party under RICO statutes.

Please, please, please, please, please, pleeeeease!!!

(a boy can dream, can't he?)
posted by bashos_frog at 7:14 PM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Spurs and quirts...ride 'em where you find 'em, amberglow! Yeehaw!
posted by taosbat at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I became a federal employee a few months ago. On my first-day orientation, they made a big deal of the Hatch Act. It came up again during an annual mandatory training day a few weeks later.
posted by neuron at 7:43 PM on March 28, 2007


this is not the only thing Doan is under investigation for - there are questions of improprieties in contracts awarded by the GSA.

And that ties the GSA in directly with both the Abramoff and Duke Cunningham crimes as well as Attorneygate, i believe. (Altho she was only appointed in 06)

Carol Lam vs. The White House Gravy Train
posted by amberglow at 8:04 PM on March 28, 2007


I don't see how this ends short of prosecuting the entire Republican party under RICO statutes. It's clear the party structure was subverted into becoming a criminal enterprise.

Indeed. This is a meme that bears repeating.

Democracy appears to require an open, accountable governance process. In this digital age that is not at all difficult.

The spooks claim to have technology that allows them to store all our digital communications, including voice, email, texting, and faxing.

One of those magic boxes should be put on the communications trunk of every public and governmental agency. If they can do it to us, the people and public, they can sure as hell do it to themselves.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2007


This blog post cuts Doan a lot of slack, saying she's in an impossible no-win position-- ...Lurita replaced Stephen Perry as the GSA Administrator. Mr. Perry, you will recall, resigned in October 2005 in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. Mr. Perry resigned two weeks after David Safavian, Perry’s chief of staff, was arrested for obstructing justice and his connections to Jack Abramoff. I should note that it was during Mr. Perry’s tenure that companies such as MZM, with no experience or revenue, mysteriously obtained multi-million dollar blanket purchase agreements.

Lurita was expected to clean up the mess at GSA: ...

posted by amberglow at 8:07 PM on March 28, 2007


and from there: ...Now the scandal has gone into overdrive because White House political staff were coaching GSA political appointees in a videoconference that was presided over by Lurita. This latest scandal reeks of the same politicization of the government that the U.S. attorney scandal reeks of. Given the central role GSA has played in the Jack Abramoff scandal and in the Duke Cunningham/Gonzogate scandal, it rings true that the White House is involved in across-the-board politicization of government. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:10 PM on March 28, 2007


Jebus...nuke them all from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by darkstar at 10:15 PM on March 28, 2007


RandlePatrickMcMurphy writes "I'd like someone to explain the logic of that."

Separation of powers, and maybe an excess of caution.

You might not agree that it's necessary, but that's the logic, at least.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:08 PM on March 28, 2007


I would love it if our Canadian media would pick up on the picture of what's happened in the US (politicization of public offices and public services), and make a big stink about how our Prime Ministers have sought the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:20 PM on March 28, 2007


Unfortunately, criminal charges will be exceedingly rare for the army of Republican scandaleers.

On the other hand, the proliferation of blogs and--more importantly--online video makes this the worst point in all of human history for a political party to expose itself as both criminally corrupt and helplessly incompetent. America usually forgives the first, but never the latter.
posted by Nahum Tate at 11:35 PM on March 28, 2007


the proliferation of blogs and--more importantly--online video makes this the worst point in all of human history for a political party

I'm not sure I believe that yet. It seems that all of this technological greatness of the digital age does exactly what the government would want.

We have sequestered ourselves to echo-chambers and amusement instead of participating in the real world. Maybe this is helping.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2007


Is there any limit to how many pardons a President can dole out?

Is there any way to change it?

Thirty percent of US households don't have internet access. Blogs are not nearly as important as bloggers like to think.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 AM on March 29, 2007


Is there any limit to how many pardons a President can dole out?

There's a procedural limit in that Presidents cannot pardon impeachments and removals from office. There is no numerical limit. If he really wanted to, Bush could pardon every person in federal prison. Or even issue everyone on Earth a blanket pardon against any federal crimes they might have committed.

Is there any way to change it?

Amend the Constitution. No other way.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2007


So the Patriot act is the Reichstag fire decree...I suppose you don’t need the enabling act as long as the other party is neutralized and the apparatus of government is skirted.
(I’d say ‘we’re defenseless, but not honorless’...but we’re not defenseless yet.)
Anna Nicole still dead?
posted by Smedleyman at 10:55 AM on March 29, 2007


Waxman writes to Rove about what they learned at the hearing: ... # Have you, Mr. Jennings, or other employees of the White House Office of Political Affairs given this political briefing or any similar briefing mentioning future elections or candidates on other occasions? Please provide the Committee a list of the dates, times, and locations of any of these presentations at which federal officials were present, whether they occurred on federal property or not, as well as a list of the people and organizations who participated....
# Why did Mr. Jennings and his staff assistant use private "gwb43.com" accounts rather than their "eop.gov" accounts to correspond with Administrator Doan’s office about the PowerPoint presentation? ...

posted by amberglow at 3:38 PM on March 29, 2007


Y'know, Canada rewrote its constitution a few years back.

It worked extremely well for us, IMO.

Perhaps the USA needs to do the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:42 PM on March 29, 2007


it wouldn't be possible in this climate--the system for even talking about fixing things is entirely broken, let alone trying to actually fix things. We'd end up with even more of a "Christian" RobberBaron States of America thing than we have now.
posted by amberglow at 5:19 PM on March 29, 2007


That's likely true.

So what you need is a benevolent dictator, who comes in, restructures the USA, catches all y'all up to the latest expectations for rights and freedoms, rejigs the electoral system, and then gives up power.

Good luck with that. IMO, it's looking more and more like the USA is doomed as a nation. You can't keep on this path without it biting you back in the ass.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:53 PM on March 29, 2007


It's MC ROVE!
posted by delmoi at 5:56 PM on March 29, 2007


Heh. I thought CRS was what my daddy used to call his memory loss--"Can't Remember Shit."

More like Congressional Recall Syndrome.
posted by delmoi at 5:58 PM on March 29, 2007


It's Hearing Season: Oversight: The Coming Attractions
posted by amberglow at 3:29 PM on March 30, 2007


And it's a new Agency each day now: The Justice Department is far from the only government agency troubled by politicization under the Bush administration. All you have to do is spin the wheel.
So today, it's the Fish and Wildlife Service! And at the center of it is one Julie A. MacDonald, appointed by Bush to be the deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks at the Interior Department. The very ugly details of her malfeasance have been exposed by an inspector general report. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on March 30, 2007


LOLWTFBUSH.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:31 PM on March 30, 2007


You can't keep on this path without it biting you back in the ass.

And so it goes.
posted by taosbat at 8:04 PM on March 30, 2007


When a giant trips over its own corruption, it falls long and hard. This is going to be a spectacle. I hope like hell it doesn't fall on anyone who doesn't deserve it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:10 PM on March 30, 2007


more on the email thing from CREW: Presidential Records belong to the United States (even political ones by staffers if they relate at all to their work--they're knowingly violating the presidential records act)
posted by amberglow at 10:01 PM on March 30, 2007


Now it's an official investigation: Another federal investigation is targeting a Bush administration official, this time for possibly using government resources for partisan political purposes.

The Office of Special Counsel confirmed to ABC News it has launched an investigation into General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan, probing concerns she may have violated a ban against conducting partisan political activity at government expense by participating in a meeting featuring a presentation by a White House political aide on GOP election strategy. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:11 PM on April 5, 2007


and from there:
But Doan may not have been the only top official to host a White House political official at her agency. The White House political office has been giving presentations similar to the one at GSA since at least 2002, briefing officials throughout the government on Republican campaign information, according to a recent book by two Los Angeles Times reporters.

"[White House political adviser Karl] Rove and [former Bush campaign chief and one-time Republican National Committee head Ken] Mehlman ventured to nearly every cabinet agency to share key polling data" leading up to the 2002 midterm elections, wrote Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten in their book, "One Party Country," "and to deliver a reminder of White House priorities, including the need for the president's allies to win in the next election." ...

posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on April 5, 2007


Political Briefings At Agencies Disclosed:
White House Calls Meetings Lawful
--White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.

...

posted by amberglow at 4:19 AM on April 26, 2007


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