Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rove's Office Urged (federal) Spending to Help GOP Incumbents in '06; "gross abuse of public trust"

Washington Post

When Karl Rove's office requested special help for beleaguered Republican congressional candidates in the months before the 2006 elections, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy jumped to the task. Director John Walters carried half-million-dollar grants to news conferences with two congressmen and a senator, earning a top Rove aide's accolade of "superstar" after the election.

Walters's visits to Utah, Missouri and Nevada were among at least 303 out-of-town trips by senior Bush appointees meant to lend prestige or bring federal grants to 99 politically endangered Republicans that year, in an orchestrated White House campaign that House Democratic investigators yesterday called unprecedented in scope and scale.

Although federal law prohibits the use of public funds or resources for partisan political activities -- and specifically barred Walters from any involvement in a federal election campaign -- the agencies involved said most of these trips were paid for by taxpayer funds, according to the draft report released by the Democratic majority of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The report said the trips were freely described as political in subpoenaed e-mails and interviews. A master list prepared at the White House two weeks before the election listed the names and dates of appearances by Cabinet secretaries in 73 key congressional districts, all under the heading "Final Push Surrogate Matrix."

"This is," the report said, "a gross abuse of the public trust."

The existence of the White House effort to turn federal officials into instruments of the 2006 Republican campaign effort is already well known, as well as the existence of a so-called "asset deployment" strategy involving senior appointees in every federal agency. But the House report, based on a review of more than 63,000 pages of internal documents, includes fresh details about which Cabinet members participated and who benefited....

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