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Obama nominee for GPO chief accepted, repaid improper payments

By Ed O'Keefe

William J. Boarman, President Obama's nominee to lead the Government Printing Office, received and cashed about $3,200 in improper payments from the GPO in the last six years and repaid the funds on Tuesday, according to government records.

Boarman has been on leave without pay from GPO since he took the first in a series of union positions in 1977. He currently serves as a senior vice president with the Communication Workers of America, the world's largest telecommunications union.

The agency acknowledged to Boarman last Thursday that it had improperly paid him because of "administrative errors."

GPO labor agreement permit workers to take a leave of absence if they are serving as union officers. Documents provided to The Washington Post by a GPO official show Boarman first requested leave in 1977, when he became president of the Columbia Typographical Union. He requested leave again in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1985 to continue serving as union president. The records do not indicate his leave was extended beyond Jan. 1, 1987.

Despite being on leave without pay, Boarman received $1,615.04 in 2004 for six days of holiday pay and one day of regular pay, according to GPO records. He received $945.92 in 2005 for three days of holiday pay and one day of regular pay and in 2007 banked $1,055.25 for 35 hours of annual leave. Boarman cashed the payments, records show.

Earlier this year GPO also paid Boarman $175 for "goal sharing," a program that pays workers extra money if the agency meets certain paper and electricity reduction goals. Boarman informed GPO of the improper "goal sharing" payment in June and repaid the funds, according to officials.

GPO informed Boarman last Thursday of the other improper payments. "Although these overpayments were caused entirely by administrative errors made by GPO and not by anything you did, by law and regulation we are required to seek reimbursement for these overpayments," the agency told him.

In a reply sent Tuesday Boarman said "When I received these payments I had no reason to believe they were in error. I understood these were payments for leave I had accumulated during the period I worked at GPO in a pay status."

Boarman "did absolutely nothing wrong," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin.

"GPO made these errors of their own accord, as they stated clearly in their letter of July 8," Cherlin said in an e-mail. "This episode makes it clear that GPO is sorely in need of stronger financial management, and that’s one of the reasons we’re looking forward to Mr. Boarman’s confirmation and service.”

The Senate Rules Committee plans to vote on Boarman's nomination Tuesday, according to a spokesman.

Boarman apologized to senators during his May 25 confirmation hearing for not disclosing a March $250 contribution to the Senate campaign of Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Blanche Lincoln in a Democratic Senate primary. Boarman denied to lawmakers that he was involved in bundling efforts for the campaign.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 15, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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Ok, so it looks like the GPO pay system needs to be updated, but what federal agency doesn't have that problem? That's what happens when you allow the government to control things! This Boarman guy sounds like a total union thug. If I read this correctly, he cashed a bunch of checks when he was on LEAVE WITHOUT PAY (which means you don't get paid) over 30 something years or whatever - that's a lot of fraud, theft, lies and cover-up if you ask me, all at the taxpayers expense. Also, it says he received and cashed over $3K in 6 years, but what about before 2004? Is there more? Finally, he supported Halter personally, so he had to support Halter as a Union rep officially as well, so clearly he bundled funds against Lincoln which makes it quite surprising that the WH supports this nominee.

Posted by: TerranceAlverez | July 15, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

The White House said he did nothing wrong. Excuse me, he cashed a bunch of checks and didn't once think it was odd or ask a question. He STOLE MONEY from the American taxpayer plain and simple. If you or I did it, we'd be facing a prison term. If you're a union bigwig, it's someone else's fault. Where's Mr. Boarman's integrity? He seems like the kind of guy that if the cashier mistakenly rang him up for $12.00 instead $120.00 he'd consider himself lucky instead of correcting the error. The American people deserve public officials with integrity. If he won't ask the appropriate questions when he's dealing with hundreds or thousands of dollars, what will he do when he's running a billion dollar agency?

Also, if he's still a federal employee why or how does he get paid for leave. I'm a federal employee and I tried to cash out leave and was told that could only happen if I separated from the agency. I guess I should be a union bigwig.

This whole think stinks. I hope the Inspector General or Comptroller General or some Congressional Committee investigates this.

Posted by: CarrieMiller | July 15, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

How is someone on leave without pay for over thirty years? Is this even legal? Does he get any benefits?

The White House says "this episode makes it clear that GPO is sorely in need of stronger financial management." Do you really think a guy who doesn't have a clue about how much leave he has accrued or how he much money he should be paid will provide stronger financial management? He probably can't even balance his own check book.

I'm a card carrying Democrat and I'm pissed off that the unions spent millions of dollars trying to defeat a great Democrat Senator Blanche Lincoln instead of trying to defeat Republicans.

I guess if Bill Boarman is Obama's man, he was under orders from the White House to donate to Blanche's opponent. How many other Obama appointees opposed Blanche?

Shame on you Bill Boarman! I hope the Democrats in the Senate just say no to your confirmation. If we lose the House or Senate this November, we have no one to blame but the unions and people like you!

Posted by: JohnnieRoberts | July 15, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

This is an interesting article but Ed leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I certainly hope he continues to dig.

How many other Obama officials worked against Senator Blanche Lincoln in the primary election?

Bill Clinton worked hard for Blanche, why didn't President Obama? Are unions more important to the President than keeping Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate?

Do any of the Members of the Senate Rules Committee actually believe Bill Boarman or have any confidence that he will tell the truth?

Oops, I forgot I gave money against a sitting Democratic Senator. Oops, I forgot I cashed checks that I wasn't entitled to but it's not my fault because I shouldn't have received them in the first place. Oops, I've been on leave without pay for over thirty years, but for the past twenty-three there are no records that I should be. Oops, I'm a government worker who was able cash out my annual leave, but no one else in government is allowed to which is why I thought those thousands of dollars of checks I received over several years were actually money do to me even though any reasonable person might ask a question or two.

Do we really want someone either as stupid or unethical as Bill Boarman running a federal government agency? I don't and hope the majority of Senate doesn't either.

Posted by: anniedrucker | July 15, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Bill Boarman isn't the only Obama appointee who tried to defeat sitting Deomcrat Senator Blanche Lincoln. Look at the FEC reports and you'll find a number of other "famous" names trying rid the party of sensible people like Blanche.

It's also obvious that the CWA Union bundled money. How can Boarman say with a straight face that he wasn't a part of it? Is he that incompetent as a union leader that he didn't do what the union bragged about doing?

Is this all part of an Obama run purification of the non-conforming members of the democratic party? Should we expect more White House involvement against Senators and Congressmen that don't toe the Administration's agenda 100% of the time.

It appears that Obama has an enemies list much like Richard Nixon or Herbert Hoover or Joseph McCarthy and Obama's appointees are expected to fall in line and contribute to defeat anyone who dares to represent their district or state instead of the White House.

Posted by: mikemiller34 | July 15, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Any guess on how Senator Blanche Lincoln will be voting on this nominee? I'm betting on a secret hold.

Posted by: tammylongfether | July 15, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

If he can literally steal thousands of dollars while on leave without pay, imagine what he will steal once he's got the corner office.

What ever happened to integrity and honesty and doing what's right?

He says "he had no reason to believe these payments to be in error." How lame is that? Yeah, I haven't worked for the government for over thirty years and all of sudden I start getting pay checks. No reason to question that. What a crock! What about w-2 forms? Did he report this income on his taxes? Were there pay stubs with each one of these checks, you know the kind every one of us gets that still has a job?

Instead of being allowed to run a federal agency, maybe he should be sent a federal penitentiary.

I hope the Senate and the Washington Post continue digging because I doubt we've been told the whole story.

Posted by: ronkimball | July 16, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Ah! I love debates on honesty and integrity. So lets be totally honest; I find it ironic that the very people that have been paid very well by the American taxpayers to take charge and manage the Government Printing Office in accordance with the laws and regulations of the federal government have violated their oath of office not to speak of the many laws and regulations by making payments to individuals and/or contractors that was not entitled to receive the payment. Then, they leak this information to the press and now attempt to lay the blame on the recipients. I can attest to the fact that overpayments and shortages occur almost every single payday with the employees. They credit people leave that did not earn it, they give hourly paid employees comp time in lieu of paying them overtime when they are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act. They pay executives retension bonuses that do not meet the requirements. The very manager that oversees this financial nightmare received a retension bonus and numerous performance awards for his management of these financial systems. Yes, lets talk honesty.
I know for a fact the Public Printer (Bush appointee) wants to continue to be Public Printer and his cronies would like to stay and continue to collect that paycheck that they claim is way short of what they could get in the "private sector". Then, they are actively trying their best to sabotage the Obama nominee by leaking this wrongdoing that they created. Wow, what a great position to be in.
Then, the press jumps in by writing the story without any kind effort to get to the real cause of the problem. Then you and I jump in (John Q public) and offer our two cents. Lets stop being played...
The Government Printing Offrice is not to blame. It is all of those individuals that have been placed in the positions to make sure we operate within the confines of the laws and regulations. Overpayments do and will occur but when they are discovered lets collect the overpayment without treating the recipient like a criminal. It should be the sender especially when it happens a multitude of times and contrary to law and/or regulations.
Finally, it sad to say; the days are diminishing when people no longer will turn back money they have found or received that they did not earn.

Posted by: unionyes1 | July 16, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I wish that my former employer would periodically give me money for 33 years after I left. I'd have no reason to doubt it's legitimate. None at all.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 16, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the complaints. Why should Bill Boarman be any different than the rest of our Esteemed Leader's Appointments? Lesson to be learned by the poor slubs who are doing time for same offenses prosecuted by the state government is Be Friends with This Administration-- Get Appointed for some ** position by the Feds (instead of State gov't) and all is forgiven. Great points made by all the previous posters. Maybe instead of posting here, they should have posted to the President's "save money by federal workers website" There is a reward for saving money.

Posted by: jacksjill | July 16, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

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