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Waxman Wants Rove To Answer Some Questions

 

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is looking to follow-up on his eye-opening hearing Wednesday with GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan.

Waxman sent a letter on Thursday to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove asking Rove whether he played any role in putting together a Jan. 26 videoconference. During that event, a White House aide briefed political appointees at GSA on what they could do to help Republicans - and hurt Democrats - in 2008. House Democrats have suggested the meeting may have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities at work. J. Scott Jennings, an aide to Rove who works in the White House Office of Political Affairs, conducted a PowerPoint presentation on the 2008 political outlook at that Jan. 26 meeting.

Doan was grilled mercilessly on Wednesday by Democrats on the panel over her comments at the gathering, which reportedly included her asking others in attendance what they could do "to help our candidates" in next year's election. Doan said she could not recall making that comment, although at least two GSA officials have told committee investigators under oath that she did.

Now it's Rove's turn. With the House and Senate Judiciary committees already seeking his testimony under oath regarding any role that he might have had in the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys, Waxman wants Rove to answer the questions below, and he's giving Rove until April 13 to comply. No word on whether Waxman will try to subpoena Rove or Jennings if the White House doesn't respond to his request for information, but after Doan's horrific performance on Wednesday, it could happen.

Here at the questions that Waxman wants answered by Rove regarding the GSA incident:

* Did you approve of the slides in Mr. Jennings's presentation? Did you approve of
Mr. Jennings's participation in this meeting?

* Does the White House Office of Political Affairs or the White House Counsel have a
policy addressing when and where White House employees can make political
presentations such as the one Mr. Jennings gave at GSA headquarters onJanuary 26,
2007? Please explain the legal authority you believe allows you to make such
presentations on federal property during business hours.

* Did Mr. Jennings, you, or any other employee of the White House Office of Political
Affairs consult with the White House Counsel or the Office of the Special Counsel
about whether delivering this presentation to federal govemment employees in a
government building during business hours violated the Hatch Act or any other rules,
policies or procedures?

* Have you, Mr. Jennings, or other employees of the White House Office of Political
Affairs given this political briefing or any similar briefing mentioning future elections
or candidates on other occasions? Please provide the Committee a list of the dates,
times, and locations of any of these presentations at which federal officials were
present, whether they occurred on federal property or not, as well as a list of the
people and organizations who participated.

* Have you, Mr. Jennings, or other employees of the White House Office of Political
Affairs provided Mr. Jennings's PowerPoint presentation or any similar presentation
to federal officials mentioning future elections or candidates to people or
organizations outside of the White House Office of Political Affairs? Please provide
the Committee a list of who received the presentation, as well as the dates, times, and
locations the presentation was provided.

* Who prepared the PowerPoint presentation given by Mr. Jennings? Did your office
use federal funds to prepare this briefing? If so, please explain the legal authority that
you believe allows you to use federal funds to prepare political briefings such as the
one Mr. Jennings presented at GSA headquarters on January 26,2007.

Why did Mr. Jennings and his staff assistant use private 'gwb43.com' accounts rather
than their 'eop.gov' accounts to correspond with Administrator Doan's office about
the PowerPoint presentation?"

Waxman also sent a letter on Thursday to White House Counsel Fred Fielding about White House e-mail policies. Democrats believe that some White House officials may be using e-mail accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee or the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign in order to avoid federal record-keeping requirements on official White House documents. Waxman has already told the RNC and the Bush-Cheney campaigns not to destroy or erase their e-mail records, and the organizations are complying with his demand.

Waxman wants to know what the Bush administration policy is on e-mails, and he is seeking a meeting with Fielding or one the deputy White House counsels next week on the matter.

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