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Fired Biden admin Brett Blanton must give up some of his final pay after spending controversy

Taxpayers will be partially reimbursed for the alleged waste of money by former Architect of the U.S. Capitol Brett Blanton, according to the acting architect of the Capitol.

Congressional administrators are withholding $12,516 from the final annual payments due to Blanton, who was fired by President Biden in February, amid controversy over his personal use of a taxpayer-funded vehicle and questions about his adherence to agency policies.

Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton
File: Then-Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton arrives to testify during House Administration Committee hearing in Washington on Feb. 9, 2023. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In a letter to the Senate Budget Committee, the acting architect of the Capitol confirmed some of Blanton's final pay would be withheld. The letter said that "all Architect of the Capitol employees must be accountable and comply with agency policies."

An internal review in October 2022 by the inspector general for the architect of the Capitol found "Blanton abused his authority and squandered taxpayer money, including by allowing his family to use his government-owned SUVs, and driving the vehicles on family vacations to South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida, and a trip to a craft brewery.  

The inspector general's report also alleged Blanton allowed his wife and daughter to drive his government-issued car, including one instance in which his daughter was accused of driving recklessly. The report said Blanton's daughter  "had transported both her friends and boyfriend in the vehicle and referred to using the [Architect of the Capitol]'s fuel as 'free gas.'"

In another instance, the report said Blanton claimed to be a law enforcement agent, and after a traffic accident, "when the driver inquired about Blanton's insurance information, Blanton told him it was a government vehicle and that he was an 'agent,'" said the report.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said Blanton's treatment of his office vehicles was a "blatant misuse of government property."  In a Senate floor speech, Grassley quoted an excerpt of the office's internal review, arguing Blanton "violated every pillar the Office of Inspector General operates under including theft, fraud, waste and abuse against not only the architect of the Capitol, but also the taxpayer."

Blanton was also sharply criticized by Democrats at a hearing in early 2023 for failing to travel to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 to respond to the damage from the riotous violence of the Capitol Insurrection. During the hearing, Rep. Norma Torres, Democrat of California, told Blanton, "I am outraged that you would be in a comfortable place, sir, while the rest of us were thinking about dying that day and how we were going to come out alive that day."

An acting architect of the Capitol has been named to temporarily succeed Blanton. Senate sources told CBS News there are proposals for legislation this year to give Congress the ability to oust the architect of the Capitol, who is appointed by the U.S. president. Blanton was appointed by then-President Donald Trump. 

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