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GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics
Waxman's investigation began in response to a Jan. 19 story in The Washington Post about a no-bid job Doan tried to give to firms run by Edie Fraser, a veteran Washington public relations executive who had served as a paid consultant to Doan. Waxman's investigators concluded that the two women had "a long-standing business relationship" that was not "previously disclosed," according to Waxman's letter.
Between 2003 and 2005, Fraser billed Doan as much as $20,000 a month in consulting fees to "generally promote attributes" of Doan and her company, New Technology Management Inc., according to invoices obtained by The Post. In all, Doan paid at least $417,500 to companies affiliated with Fraser before Doan took over the GSA, according to Waxman's investigators.
Last year, Fraser helped prepare Doan for her GSA confirmation and lined up political support for her, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Post.
On July 25, two months after Doan took office, she took the unusual step of personally signing the no-bid arrangement with Diversity Best Practices and Business Women's Network, firms then run by Fraser, to produce a report about GSA's use of businesses owned by minorities or women. The GSA's general counsel at the time, Alan R. Swendiman, told Waxman's investigators he was "alarmed" that the project was not competitively bid.
Last month, in a letter to Waxman's committee, a senior GSA official called the no-bid arrangement a "procedural mistake." Doan told The Post that she submitted a service order for the work through normal GSA contracting channels and did not focus on it afterward.
But Swendiman, now a special assistant to President Bush, told Waxman's investigators that he "immediately and repeatedly" advised Doan to terminate the arrangement. When he was unable to persuade her, Swendiman directed a GSA contracting officer to terminate the arrangement. The investigators found evidence indicating that Doan continued to try to find ways to award the project to her friend.
The committee's examination of the Jan. 26 videoconference could raise questions about the role of Jennings, the White House official who works for Rove.
Jennings's name has recently surfaced in investigations of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys around the country. He communicated with Justice Department officials concerning the appointment of Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide, as U.S. attorney in Little Rock, according to e-mails released this month. For that exchange, Jennings, although working at the White House, used an e-mail account registered to the Republican National Committee, where Griffin had worked as a political opposition researcher.
Jennings is a longtime political operative from Kentucky. He served as political director for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2002 before joining the White House.
After Jennings and Doan spoke during the videoconference, one regional GSA administrator offered the suggestion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could be excluded from the opening of an environmentally efficient federal courthouse in San Francisco, which Pelosi represents, according to Waxman's letter. GSA manages the nation's federal courthouses.
The letter cited evidence that Doan then raised questions about "the upcoming opening of a courthouse in Florida," based on statements from participants in the videoconference. Doan noted that President Bill Clinton had suggested he might attend, and she "stated that an effort should be made to get Senator Mel Martinez, the General Chairman of the Republican National Committee, to attend," Waxman said in his letter to Doan.
"It would be an obvious abuse if you suggested to agency officials that the activities of the agency be manipulated to provide political advantages to Republican candidates," Waxman told her in the letter.