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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 02/ 7/2011

Republicans want information on timing, scope of Bush-era Cabinet probe

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 6:02 p.m. ET
Congressional Republicans are asking the federal government's independent watchdog office to explain why it took almost four years to release a report alleging that at least seven Cabinet secretaries from George W. Bush's administration violated federal law restricting the political activities of top government officials.

The Office of Special Counsel report released in January highlighted widespread violations of the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activities of career federal employees and top political appointees. The violations occurred mostly in 2005 and 2006 as the Bush White House deployed top officials to campaign for vulnerable Republican congressional candidates, according to the report.

The White House orchestrated the travel through its political affairs office, the report said. The findings were published days after President Obama announced plans to move his political operations outside of the West Wing to his new reelection headquarters in Chicago and to Democratic National Committee offices in Washington. The White House had no knowledge of the report's impending publication, according to administration officials.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, first sought information on the report last July, but never received an answer, his office said. The chairman sent another request for information on Jan. 27, according to a letter obtained by The Post on Monday (but first obtained by Dan Friedman National Journal Daily.)

"Nearly four years passed between the start of the investigation and the issuance of the report," Issa said in a letter to Acting Special Counsel William E. Reukauf. "I have requested an explanation for this long delay in making your work public. You have ignored my request."

The report also failed to explore potential Hatch Act violations from the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, Issa said.

Darshan Sheth, an OSC spokesman, said the office soon plans to share details of the investigation with Issa's office. "The report was released when it was completed," Sheth said in an e-mail. "It took as long as it did because, as the report noted, we conducted over 80 interviews and reviewed over 100,000 documents. That's a big task for a small agency."

OSC, which enforces federal workplace rules and investigates allegations of potential violations, employs about 120 people, Sheth said.

The release of the report "was not coordinated with anyone," Sheth said. "We did not provide advance copies of our report or advance notice of our findings to anyone."

Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who served as Bush's second agriculture secretary, asked OSC to correct its report, which he said incorrectly characterized visits he made to Arizona and Minnesota in 2006.

He provided OSC with reimbursement records from the campaign of former Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) for two campaign appearances in Minnesota and travel records showing that he attended USDA-sponsored meetings in addition to political events during a similar trip to Arizona.

"With the stroke of a pen you have the ability to destroy the livelihoods of committed public servants," Johanns said. "I find your apparent indifference to factual errors and simple fact checking to be shocking."

OSC issued a corrected report after obtaining the information from Johanns, Sheth said.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 7, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Oversight  
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Comments

As Darshan Sheth commented above to Issa's inquiry, it took so long because it is a small agency. You know, less government.
Also it takes lots of time to turn over all those rocks and see what crawls out.

Posted by: wek41 | February 7, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Bush/Cheney and the GOP equal corruption.
Enough said.

Posted by: sumo1 | February 7, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Rep. Issa should remember this slow response if he chooses to advocate smaller govt. There will be a lot more of this - agencies trying to do the same or more with smaller staffs.

Posted by: warren5 | February 7, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Congressional Republicans are asking the federal government's independent watchdog office to explain why it took almost four years to release a report alleging that at least seven Cabinet secretaries from George W. Bush's administration violated federal law restricting the political activities of top government officials.

Here's part of the explanation: it's because Congressional Republicans obstructed investigations into Bush's ethics any way they could.

Posted by: Bridge3263 | February 7, 2011 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this watchdog group thought an official report criticizing the ruling group would result in ruined careers and transfers to North Dakota or Alaska. Were Chaney or Rumsfeld capable of that?

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 7, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"OSC is reviewing Johanns's complaints, Sheth said."

Be prepared to wait, Mike.

Posted by: reglawyer | February 7, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Can we send any of these hypocrites to jail? Any of them? Please!

Okay, I'll settle for a big personal fine.

Posted by: BobfromLI | February 7, 2011 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Issa is probably worried that the special counsel will find out that he's stolen another car or torched another building for the insurance money. Car thieves, illegal gun owners, and arsonists of America, take heart, you've got your own representative right in the US Congress, which, it seems, is something that most of the crooks in this country can say about themselves these days.

Posted by: Bob22003 | February 7, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Karl Rove, Shrub's White House political advisor and resident sleeze machine, is who I would look at first concerning any violations of the Hatch Act. I wouldn't be surprised to finally find out that Shrub's administration was at least a corrupt as Reagan's.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | February 7, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

What I would like to know is how did George Soros a large Progressive contributor acquire $$14 billion dollars (Forbes) in a Progressive tax code country where progressives seek to raise taxes on any one whose annual income is $250,000 ? Seems all this talk about sleaze, hypocrites, and need to tax the self-reliant is beyond the pale in the face of such wealth accumulation. Will such a person avoid the death tax or will he just set up a 501(c) and hire all his MSM buddies to tell us we need to tax more.

Posted by: buckaroo5 | February 7, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by buckaroo5: What I would like to know is how did George Soros yada yadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayadayada
___________

Kind of off topic there, buckaroo. Was the Beckster talking about Soros and Alinsky again today?

Posted by: bdunn1 | February 7, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Why would Republicans want to dredge this up again? Everyone has forgotten how crooked Republicans were the last time they were in power, how they believed that the law did not apply to them, and how they nearly destroyed the country with bad decisions and flawed policies. Apparently they see their marginal victory in the House as an opportunity to redress old grudges and re-write a history that everyone else has forgotten.
While we're at it why don't we look again at how Bush/Chaney got a free pass for spending $4 trillion to defend us from a threat that didn't exist, committing war crimes by torturing prisoners, and ratting out at least one loyal CIA agent whose husband exposed their lies. Republicans have much to answer for, but they never will.

Posted by: DaveHarris | February 7, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are now gearing up to investigate the investigators.

They'll do anything except govern.

Posted by: Anadromous2 | February 7, 2011 8:25 PM | Report abuse

If we keep on doing more with less, pretty soon we'll being doing everything with nothing, Mr. Chairman. It'll just take a little while.

Posted by: finserra | February 7, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Congressional Republicans need to shut their pieholes. If there was any justice in this country the entire Bush Republican cabal would be standing trial for war crimes right now.

Posted by: DrainYou | February 7, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Political activities by political appointees?

The horror.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 8, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"With the stroke of a pen you have the ability to destroy the livelihoods of committed public servants," Johanns said. "I find your apparent indifference to factual errors and simple fact checking to be shocking."

I find double ironies here. At press of a voting button, he and his "conservative" cronies will probably attempt to destroy the livelihoods and health of multitudes in horrendous number of votes. And who is more famous for indifference to factual errors and simple fact checking than that whole conservative crowd.

Posted by: BlueDot3 | February 8, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday, a voting button killed my dog.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | February 8, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it precious that the beckerheads are taught to recite "Soros" at every opportunity, appropos or not, but their messiah/teacher beck doesn't explain what the Red Koch Bros have done to my country?

The people who claim beck tells them the truth don't know enough to realize how much he isn't telling them.

HEY REDS!
WHERE ARE THE JOBS?


The Reds in the House of Representitives today introduced HR3. Their third bill in this Congress is about tightening regs on abortion.

I knew it when they took the majority - they're going to spend the next 2 years getting their base to focus on "wedge" issues, social issues, and just keep blaiming Obama for all the economic and employment problems.


What the hell? It's easier than governing and those wedge issues bring in the campaign cash from the big lobbying groups.
(NRA, Church orgs, etc)

Posted by: lquarton | February 8, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

It is rather surprising that Cong. Issa is actively looking for proof of corruption in the Bush-Cheney regime, unless he has actually forgotten who was president in 2005 and 2006.

I wonder what he thinks about the Obama Administration's pressure to give confessed criminal Scott Bloch, former Director of Bush's Office of Special Counsel, a free ride for his crimes.

Posted by: edallan | February 9, 2011 2:09 AM | Report abuse

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