George W. Bush Staff Illegally Used Taxpayer Funds for Political Purposes

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Jim Nicholson
The months leading up to the 2006 midterm elections was a busy time for officials in the Bush administration, what with getting paid for their government jobs while campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates—a clear violation of federal law.
An investigation by the federal Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has determined that numerous White House staffers, as well as seven cabinet secretaries, violated the 1939 Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activities. As a result, American taxpayers wound up helping support the Republican election effort, which performed poorly in 2006, when the GOP lost control of both the House and Senate.


According to the special counsel’s report, the entire White House Office of Political Affairs was used to aid Republicans running for office. Some of the duties included tracking money being raised by national, state and local Republican organizations.
Also, the administration conducted “a systematic misuse of federal resources” by having cabinet members travel to certain congressional districts and then declare the trips were official business so the government could pick up the tab.
The illegal partisan junkets included visits by Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson to the districts of then-Representative Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) and House candidate Doug Roulstone (R-Washington); by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to a fundraising event for candidate Rick O’Donnell (R-Colorado); by acting Transportation Secretary Maria Cino to the district of then-Representative Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut); and by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to the district of then-Representative Rick Renzi (R-Arizona). The day before the 2006 election, Kempthorne visited North Carolina to make a joint appearance with embattled Republican Congressman Charles Taylor. Taylor lost anyway.
Although the report deals with violations by the Bush administration, the OSC has also criticized the Obama administration for doing next to nothing to prevent the possibility of the same excesses occurring again.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
“Put Your Pom-Poms on”: Report Details Hatch Act Violations (by Robert Brodsky, Government Executive)
Bush Officials Violated Hatch Act, Agency Concludes (by R. Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post)


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