Correction to This Article
An April 3 editorial incorrectly described Lurita Doan, head of the General Services Administration, as a "Republican fundraiser." Ms. Doan has contributed to Republican campaigns and causes, but according to her attorney she has not acted as a fundraiser.

Playing Politics at the GSA

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

LURITA DOAN, the troubled and troubling administrator of the General Services Administration, wants us to "honestly and absolutely" believe that she has no recollection of a meeting she hosted for political appointees with a White House official that had all the feel of a Republican pep rally. There was a PowerPoint presentation on the 2006 elections and talk of using the agency to help GOP candidates in the next election cycle. Yet the Republican fundraiser, who's been in her post for only 10 months, would have us think she forgot.

Under grilling last week during a hearing of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, Doan said of the Jan. 26 meeting with 40 Republican GSA political appointees (some of whom were linked in via videoconference) and a 28-page presentation that included a list of 20 House Democrats the GOP views as vulnerable in 2008: "I'm a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but I can say that I honestly don't have a recollection of the presentation at all." On the allegation made by six attendees that she asked how the GSA could help "our candidates": "I will tell you that I honestly and absolutely, I do not have a recollection of actually saying that." Yeah. Sure.

What we have here is an apparent violation of the Hatch Act of 1939. That's the federal law that prohibits political activity by government employees and agencies. Unfortunately, it hasn't stopped the Bush administration from walking the line between the two as if it were a tightrope at the circus: The Doan drama is yet another example of the administration's politicization of the federal government. The presenter at Doan's forgotten meeting was J. Scott Jennings, deputy to White House senior adviser Karl Rove. So sensitive was this gathering that Mr. Jennings eschewed his government "eop.gov" e-mail address for his private "gwb43.com" address.

All this -- the PowerPoint presentation, the high-level official from the White House who did the presentation, the go-team cheerleading of Ms. Doan -- leads us to an important question: Who else in the federal government has seen this show? House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) asked that question and more in a letter to Mr. Rove on March 29. He, and we, are eager for a response.


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