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2287Re: [prezveepsenator] Special Counsel to investigate Rove

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  • THOMAS JOHNSON
    Apr 24, 2007
      I had been worried that our system was broken beyond
      repair, but stories like these give me great hope.

      Tom


      --- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:

      >
      http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-probe24apr24,0,3535547.story?coll=la-home-headlines
      >
      > Low-key office launches high-profile inquiry
      >
      > The Office of Special Counsel will investigate U.S.
      > attorney firings and other political activities led
      > by
      > Karl Rove.
      > By Tom Hamburger, Times Staff Writer
      > April 24, 2007
      >
      > WASHINGTON — Most of the time, an obscure federal
      > investigative unit known as the Office of Special
      > Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities
      > of relatively low-level government employees,
      > stepping
      > in with reprimands and other routine administrative
      > actions for such offenses as discriminating against
      > military personnel or engaging in prohibited
      > political
      > activities.
      >
      > But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to
      > jump
      > into one of the most sensitive and potentially
      > explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad
      > investigation into key elements of the White House
      > political operations that for more than six years
      > have
      > been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
      >
      > The new investigation, which will examine the firing
      > of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House
      > e-mails, and White House efforts to keep
      > presidential
      > appointees attuned to Republican political
      > priorities,
      > could create a substantial new problem for the Bush
      > White House.
      >
      > First, the inquiry comes from inside the
      > administration, not from Democrats in Congress.
      > Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being
      > pressed
      > on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified
      > investigation covering many facets of the political
      > operation in which Rove played a leading part.
      >
      > "We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott
      > J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and
      > a
      > presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday.
      > "We will not leave any stone unturned."
      >
      > Bloch declined to comment on who his investigators
      > would interview, but he said the probe would be
      > independent and uncoordinated with any other agency
      > or
      > government entity.
      >
      > The decision by Bloch's office is the latest
      > evidence
      > that Rove's once-vaunted operations inside the
      > government, which helped the GOP hold the White
      > House
      > and Congress for six years, now threaten to mire the
      > administration in investigations.
      >
      > The question of improper political influence over
      > government decision-making is at the heart of the
      > controversy over the firing of U.S. attorneys and
      > the
      > ongoing congressional investigation of the special
      > e-mail system installed in the White House and other
      > government offices by the Republican National
      > Committee.
      >
      > All administrations are political, but this White
      > House has systematically brought electoral concerns
      > to
      > Cabinet agencies in a way unseen previously.
      >
      > For example, Rove and his top aides met each year
      > with
      > presidential appointees throughout the government,
      > using PowerPoint presentations to review polling
      > data
      > and describe high-priority congressional and other
      > campaigns around the country.
      >
      > Some officials have said they understood that they
      > were expected to seek opportunities to help
      > Republicans in these races, through federal grants,
      > policy decisions or in other ways.
      >
      > A former Interior Department official, Wayne R.
      > Smith,
      > who sat through briefings from Rove and his
      > then-deputy Ken Mehlman, said that during President
      > Bush's first term, he and other appointees were
      > frequently briefed on political priorities.
      >
      > "We were constantly being reminded about how our
      > decisions could affect electoral results," Smith
      > said.
      >
      > "This is a big deal," Paul C. Light, a New York
      > University expert on the executive branch, said of
      > Bloch's plan. "It is a significant moment for the
      > administration and Karl Rove. It speaks to the
      > growing
      > sense that there is a nexus at the White House that
      > explains what's going on in these disparate
      > investigations."
      >
      > The 106-person Office of Special Counsel has never
      > conducted such a broad and high-profile inquiry in
      > its
      > history. One of its primary missions has been to
      > enforce the Hatch Act, a law enacted in 1939 to
      > preserve the integrity of the civil service.
      >
      > Bloch said the new investigation grew from two
      > narrower inquiries his staff had begun in recent
      > weeks.
      >
      > One involved the fired U.S. attorney from New
      > Mexico,
      > David C. Iglesias.
      >
      > The other centered on a PowerPoint presentation that
      > a
      > Rove aide, J. Scott Jennings, made at the General
      > Services Administration this year.
      >
      > That presentation listed recent polls and the
      > outlook
      > for battleground House and Senate races in 2008.
      > After
      > the presentation, GSA Administrator Lorita Doan
      > encouraged agency managers to "support our
      > candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses.
      > Doan
      > said she could not recall making such comments.
      >
      > The Los Angeles Times has learned that similar
      > presentations were made by other White House staff
      > members, including Rove, to other Cabinet agencies.
      > During such presentations, employees said they got a
      > not-so-subtle message about helping endangered
      > Republicans.
      >
      > White House spokesman Scott M. Stanzel said the
      > Hatch
      > Act did not prohibit providing informational
      > briefings
      > to government employees.
      >
      > Responding to a letter of complaint to the White
      > House
      > from 25 Democratic senators, Stanzel said: "It is
      > entirely appropriate for the president's staff to
      > provide informational briefings to appointees
      > throughout the federal government about the
      > political
      > landscape in which they implement the president's
      > policies and priorities."
      >
      > However, questions have emerged about the PowerPoint
      > presentations, including whether Doan's comments
      > crossed the line and whether the presentations
      > violated rules limiting political activity on
      > federal
      > property.
      >
      > Whether legal or not, the multiple presentations
      > revealed how widely and systematically the White
      > House
      > sought to deliver its list of electoral priorities.
      >
      > In the course of investigating the U.S. attorney
      > matter and the PowerPoint presentations, Democratic
      > congressional investigators discovered e-mails
      > written
      > by White House personnel using accounts maintained
      > by
      > the Republican National Committee.
      >
      > For example, they discovered that Jennings, a
      > special
      > assistant to the president and deputy director of
      > political affairs in the White House, was using an
      > e-mail with the domain name of "gwb43.com" that the
      > RNC maintained.
      >
      > That domain name showed up in e-mail communications
      > from Jennings about how to replace U.S. Atty. H.E.
      > "Bud" Cummins III of Arkansas to make room for
      > Timothy
      > Griffin, a Rove protege, in such a way as to
      > "alleviate pressure/implication that Tim forced Bud
      >
      === message truncated ===
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