May 1, 2008

Dismissed GSA Administrator Carried on Bush Administration Tradition of Politics Before Public Service, Whitehouse Says

Former Administration Official Suggested Using Federal Agency Resources to Help GOP Candidates

Washington, D.C. – The former head of the federal General Services Administration (GSA) displayed serious errors in judgment that more than warranted her dismissal, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said today. Lurita Doan was asked to resign as administrator of GSA, which acts as the landlord and procurement agency for the federal government.

“Lurita Doan is the latest in a long line of Bush Administration appointees who put winning elections and helping friends and cronies before serving the American people,” said Whitehouse. “To suggest, as did Ms. Doan, that the employees and resources of a government agency be used to help one party’s political candidates against another’s is an unacceptable and egregious violation of federal law and the public trust. I trust the next Administrator at GSA will demonstrate better judgment – and better priorities.”

Last January, a deputy to chief White House political advisor Karl Rove made a presentation to GSA employees naming Democratic representatives the Republican Party planned to target for challenges in 2008. The briefing also discussed Republican incumbents the party believed were vulnerable. At the presentation, Doan reportedly asked: “How can we help our candidates?” Reports of the meeting sparked an investigation by Congress and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel; the Special Counsel’s office concluded that Doan had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from working to influence an election. Ms. Doan was also under investigation by the GSA’s own Office of Inspector General for allegedly awarding a no-bid procurement contract to a friend.

There is evidence that the Bush Administration repeatedly briefed federal employees about political matters. During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the tenure of then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Whitehouse asked former Bush Administration Deputy Political Director Sara Taylor about a presentation she gave employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that may have violated the Hatch Act.


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