White House Staffer Resigns Amid Probe
Saturday, March 29, 2008
A mid-level White House staff member has resigned after informing officials of allegations that he misused federal grant money for personal gain before he joined the government, a White House official said yesterday.
Felipe Sixto quit as special assistant to President Bush on March 20 after learning that the nonprofit Center for a Free Cuba planned to take legal action against him, said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel. Sixto was chief of staff at the Washington-based group for about three years before joining the White House's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs last July.
The matter has been referred to the Justice Department, and the inspector general at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the source of the grant funds, was investigating as well, Stanzel said.
"The president was notified about this," Stanzel said. "He thought the proper actions were being taken and the matter should be appropriately investigated."
Sixto, 28, did not return two telephone messages left yesterday at his home in Frederick.
Neither the White House nor the nonprofit would discuss specific allegations, how much was allegedly misused or how it was used.
Sixto's resignation comes on the heels of another mid-level staff member's abrupt departure from the White House. Special assistant Tim Goeglein resigned Feb. 29 after acknowledging that he had plagiarized material for a newspaper column.
Sixto was the Bush administration's liaison with state lawmakers and minority advocacy groups on issues involving Cuba, Puerto Rico, the environment, health, transportation, energy and labor, Stanzel said. He was promoted to special assistant on March 1.
The Center for a Free Cuba learned of the allegations in January and alerted USAID and began an internal investigation, said Frank Calz¿n, the group's executive director.
Calz¿n said the group, established in 1997, has received federal funding for 11 years to help promote human rights and democratic ideals in Cuba. The grant money, about $2.3 million in the most recent year, helps pay for travel and supplies such as books, medicine, clothing and shortwave radios, he said.
"We welcome the investigation," Calz¿n said. "We want to get to the bottom of it."