A May 24 A-section article about U.S. General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan incorrectly reported that the U.S. Office of Special Counsel report sent to Doan had stated that "we recommend that the President take disciplinary action against Administrator Doan" because "her disregard for such protections and safeguards is serious and warrants punishment." Those passages appeared in an earlier version of the report but not in the final version sent to Doan. The final version included a cover letter from Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch containing his "recommendation that the President take appropriate disciplinary action against you for your serious violation of the Hatch Act."
GSA Chief Violated Hatch Act, Special Counsel's Report Alleges
Thursday, May 24, 2007; 1:26 PM
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has found that General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan violated the federal Hatch Act when she allegedly asked GSA political appointees during a January briefing how they could "help our candidates" win the next election, according to a report by the office.
The Hatch Act restricts executive branch employees from using their position for political purposes. The special counsel's office, which investigates alleged violations of the law, said it would recommend that President Bush take disciplinary action against Doan, including possible removal from office.
"Her actions, to be certain, constitute an obvious misuse of her official authority and were made for the purpose of affecting the result of an election," investigators said in a copy of the 19-page report obtained by The Washington Post. "One can imagine no greater violation of the Hatch Act than to invoke the machinery of an agency, with all its contracts and buildings, in the service of a partisan campaign to retake Congress and the Governors' mansions."
Under the law, Doan has the opportunity to respond to the findings before they are finalized and a formal recommendation is sent to the White House for Bush's review.
In a statement, Doan said she fundamentally disagrees with the findings, which she called preliminary. "I have an opportunity, which I will take, to work with the Office of Special Counsel to correct the many inaccuracies before the final report is issued," she said.
Doan, whom Bush appointed last year to be administrator of the government's leading contracting agency, has 14 days to respond to the report, which she received on Friday.
The special counsel's office declined to comment, saying the "process has not been completed."
"Under law, the GSA Administrator is entitled to comment on the investigation before the Special Counsel makes any recommendation," office spokesman James Mitchell said in a statement.
The special counsel's investigation was spurred by allegations that Doan solicited agency employees "to participate in political activities during a meeting held at GSA headquarters on January 26," the report said. The meeting, a "brown bag" luncheon, featured a presentation by J. Scott Jennings, deputy director of political affairs in Karl Rove's office at the White House.
Jennings gave a PowerPoint presentation of polling data about the 2006 midterm elections. In a slide called "2008 House Targets: Top 20," the presentation named 20 Democrats on whom Republicans intended to focus in 2008. Another slide, called "2008 House GOP Defense," listed GOP candidates to be protected.
At the conclusion of the presentation, Doan "asked a question about, 'How can we help our candidates,' " the report said. Some participants began to offer suggestions before Jennings asked that the session be taken "off-line," according to the report.
According to the report, investigators took sworn statements from numerous GSA political appointees who recalled Doan saying a variation of "How can we help our candidates?" or "What can we do to help our candidates?"