Friday Night Surprise: White House Aide Caught In Shoplifting Scheme


    When Claude Allen, the former Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, resigned suddenly a few weeks ago, the White House gave its official explanation for the departure:

    President Bush’s domestic policy advisor, Claude A. Allen, has resigned to spend more time with his family, the White House said.

    Many were skeptical of the White House’s explanation. It turns out the suspicions were justified: Allen was arrested yesterday and charged in a “retail theft scheme.” From the police report:

    The Target Loss Prevention Manger contacted Montgomery County Police and through the police investigation it was learned that Allen had been receiving refunds in an amount exceeding $5,000 during last year. Some of the fraudulent returns were made at Target stores and some at Hecht’s stores. He would buy items, take them out to his car, and return to the store with the receipt. He would select the same items he had just purchased, and then return them for a refund. Allen is known to have conducted approximately 25 of these types of refunds, having the money credited to his credit cards.

    Throughout 2005 he obtained refunds for items ranging from clothing, a Bose theater system, stereo equipment, and photo printer to items valued only at $2.50.

    If we can’t trust the White House to tell us the truth about a simple personnel matter, how can we trust anything they tell us about more substantive issues.

    UPDATE: Allen had the highest salary of any employee in the White House, tied with Karl Rove, Andrew Card, and Stephen Hadley, among others. He was earning $161,000 a year.

    UPDATE II: Atrios debunks one early right-wing talking point that Allen was some unknown staffer. In fact, he was the top domestic policy adviser and a former Bush Federal Circuit Court nominee. The Washington Post labeled him the embodiment of “conservative values.”

    UPDATE III: The Washington Post reports, “White House spokesman Scott McClellan said last night that if the allegation is true, ‘no one would be more disappointed, shocked and outraged‘ than the president. McClellan said Allen had told White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and White House counsel Harriet Miers that the matter was a misunderstanding.”

    UPDATE IV: Bush is shocked:

    “If the allegations are true, Claude Allen did not tell my chief of staff and legal counsel the truth and that’s deeply disappointing,” Bush said.