Standard operating procedure

Politics at Justice, politics at the GSA.

Published March 26, 2007 3:10PM (EDT)

As the House and Senate Judiciary Committees investigate charges that the Bush administration tried to politicize the Justice Department's prosecutorial function, Rep. Henry Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is looking into whether the administration has tried to use the General Services Administration to help Republicans win elections.

The evidence: It did.

As the Washington Post reports this morning, several witnesses have told committee investigators that GSA administrator Lurita Alexis Doan and Karl Rove deputy J. Scott Jennings met with dozens of GSA officials in January to discuss Republicans' electoral prospects. The witnesses say that Jennings showed the officials a PowerPoint presentation on post-2006 polling, and then Doan asked the officials how they could "help our candidates" in the future.

Doan allegedly raised the idea of using "targeted public events, such as the opening of federal facilities around the country," to help GOP candidates. In a letter to Doan earlier this month, Waxman laid out what investigators believe happened next: "According to the information that I have received, a discussion then ensued regarding how to exclude House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from an upcoming courthouse opening in San Francisco..." According to one account, Waxman wrote, Doan "raised concerns about the upcoming opening of a courthouse in Florida. According to this account, you noted that former President Bill Clinton had expressed interest in attending, and you stated that an effort should be made to get Senator Mel Martinez, the general chairman of the Republican National Committee, to attend."

It's all part and parcel for anyone who's been paying attention. If you're willing to fire U.S. attorneys to make way for your friends or to retaliate for not prosecuting your enemies, why not assemble dozens of federal officials to orchestrate petty political games around building openings?

Of course, that's not the way that Doan would put it. She wouldn't respond to questions from the Post. But in a statement responding to Waxman's letter, she said that she has been the victim of "personal attacks and charges" ever since she "made the decision to restore fiscal discipline to all divisions within GSA."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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