GSA Chief Grilled on GOP Political Presentation

By Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Scott Higham
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 29, 2007

The chief of the General Services Administration testified on Capitol Hill yesterday that she could not recall details of a Jan. 26 videoconference in which a White House official briefed top political appointees at the agency about targeting 20 congressional Democrats in 2008.

Lurita Alexis Doan, the GSA's administrator, appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to answer questions about her 10-month tenure at the government's premier contracting agency, including her attempt to award a no-bid job to a business associate and her alleged intervention in a contract dispute with a technology company.

Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the committee was focusing on the videoconference at GSA facilities because it might have violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that restricts government agencies and employees from engaging in political activity on the job.

Waxman's investigators said they took statements from six political appointees involved in the videoconference who maintained that Doan asked her employees how they could help Republicans in the upcoming elections.

Under sharp questioning, Doan acknowledged attending the videoconference. She and up to 40 of the agency's Republican appointees scattered around the country watched a PowerPoint presentation by J. Scott Jennings, White House deputy director of political affairs, who works for Karl Rove.

On at least 10 occasions, she testified that she could not recall asking employees to help the GOP or remember details of the presentation.

"I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but I can say that I honestly don't have recollection of the presentation at all," she said.

In a slide called "2008 House Targets: Top 20," the presentation named 20 Democrats the GOP will key on in 2008. Another slide, called "2008 House GOP Defense," had a list of Republicans the party wants to protect.

"I do not recollect this," she said. "I honestly and absolutely do not recollect this."

Doan also said she did not recall asking appointees what they could do to "help our candidates," as alleged in a letter to Doan from Waxman citing the multiple sources.

"I do not have any recollection of saying that," she said.

In an earlier letter to the committee, Doan said that nothing improper had occurred during the videoconference. But under questioning, she declined to say whether she would allow a similar political briefing in the future.

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