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Special Counsel to investigate Rove

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  • Greg Cannon
    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
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 24, 2007
    • 0 Attachment
      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
      out."

      Another Jennings e-mail using the RNC account
      requested that department officials meet with a former
      New Mexico campaign advisor who wanted to "discuss the
      U.S. Atty situation there."

      The growing controversy inspired him to act, Bloch
      said.

      "We are acting with dispatch and trying to deal with
      this because people are concerned about it … and it is
      not a subject that should be left to endless
      speculation," he said.

      *

      tom.hamburger@...
    • THOMAS JOHNSON
      I had been worried that our system was broken beyond repair, but stories like these give me great hope. Tom ...
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 24, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        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 ===
      • THOMAS JOHNSON
        oops, strike that last sentiment. This office is headed by a political operative and is probably a ruse to try to avoid a congressional subpoena.. Tom ...
        Message 3 of 3 , Apr 24, 2007
        • 0 Attachment
          oops, strike that last sentiment. This office is
          headed by a political operative and is probably a ruse
          to try to avoid a congressional subpoena..

          Tom


          --- THOMAS JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...> wrote:

          > 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
          >
          === message truncated ===
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