The Office of Special Counsel, which has already recommended that GSA chief Lurita Doan be suspended or fired for participating in partisan activities while on the job, is now moving forward with its investigation of nearly 20 other administration agencies.
Eighteen agencies have been asked by the Office of Special Counsel to preserve electronic information dating back to January 2001 as part of its governmentwide investigation into alleged violations of the law that limits political activity in federal agencies.
The OSC task force investigating the claims has asked agencies, including the General Services Administration, to preserve all e-mail records, calendar information, phone logs and hard drives going back to the beginning of the Bush administration. The task force is headed by deputy OSC special counsel James Byrne.
The White House has admitted that roughly 20 agencies have received a PowerPoint briefing created by Karl Rove’s office “that included slides listing Democratic and Republican seats the White House viewed as vulnerable in 2008, a map of contested Senate seats and other information on 2008 election strategy.”
Politicization of the federal government has been illegal for decades. The 1939 Hatch Act specifically prohibits partisan campaign or electoral activities on federal government property, including federal agencies. But in 2005, Ken Mehlman, formerly one of Bush’s top political advisers, outlined the White House’s strategy of utilizing government resources for partisan gain:
One of the things that can happen in Washington when you work in an agency is that you forget who sent you there. And it’s important to remind people that you’re George Bush people. … If there’s one empire I want built, it’s the George Bush empire. [One Party Country, p. 102]
With that imperial partisanship in mind, the Bush White House has engaged in an unprecedented quest to politicize the federal government, giving briefings and PowerPoint presentations everywhere from the Interior Department to NASA on how to secure Republican victories. Said one Interior Department manager, “We were constantly being reminded about how our decisions could affect electoral results” (One Party Country, p. 103). Bush loyalists in federal agencies have also helped generate millions for favored political candidates.