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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 08/24/2011

Kurt Bardella returns

FishbowlDC breaks the news that Kurt Bardella is leaving his post as publicist for the Daily Caller and returning to work under former boss Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

According to this morning’s Politico Playbook, he’ll be working as a “professional staff member” with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is chaired by Issa.

History explains why the move is something far more than a ho-hum Washington job-change story: In March, Bardella was fired from his job as Issa’s press secretary after word spread about his un­or­tho­dox e-mail sharing ethics. Bardella, it turned out, had been forwarding copies of his e-mail interactions with reporters to New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich, who was working on a book on the culture of official Washington.

Though there was some debate over just how slimily Bardella had acted, Issa did what the public trust demanded. Here’s an excerpt from his statement on the matter:

[I]t has become clear that the committee’s Deputy Communications Director Kurt Bardella did share reporter e-mail correspondence with New York Times journalist Mark Leibovich for a book project. Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies. As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.

That there is definitive stuff. How often, after all, does a public official cite a staffer for breach of trust and broadcast his firing to the American people?

Yet just six months later, all the breaches and inconsistencies and inappropriatenesses appear to be forgotten. The Playbook item on Bardella’s reaccession says that a forthcoming statement will include this line: “He will work under the committee’s general counsel and not a spokesman for taking media inquiries.”

Taking apart the poor logic in that sentence is easier than Lego deconstruction. The thinking here seems to be, Hey, this guy’s sense of the public trust goes haywire only when dealing with media inquiries. Put him in with the lawyers, and he’ll be fine.

Frederick R. Hill, the committee’s communications director, suggests that Bardella has done his time. “He was publicly fired and punished,” said Hill. “He’s also coming back to a different position.” On the question of whether Bardella’s sense of judgment made him a questionable hire for any position, Hill said, “People make mistakes and sometimes people get second chances.”

By  |  10:43 AM ET, 08/24/2011

 
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