Government, politicized

Rove's deputies routinely briefed bureaucrats on the GOP's electoral prospects.

Published April 26, 2007 2:17PM (EDT)

Remember that high-level meeting at the General Services Administration back in January, the one in which a deputy to Karl Rove provided administrators with a PowerPoint presentation on GOP political prospects and GSA chief Lurita Doan asked how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates"?

It wasn't the only one.

As the Washington Post reports today, Rove deputies have given at least 20 of these "private briefings" to officials in at least 15 different government agencies covered by rules that are supposed to prohibit partisan political activity.

The Post says the briefings could be doubly illegal: They may have violated prohibitions against the use of government facilities for partisan political activities, and -- to the extent that government employees at the receiving end of the briefings felt coerced into helping Republican congressional candidates -- they could have violated the Hatch Act.

The Post's R. Jeffrey Smith set out to compile something like a compete list of the meetings over the past few years. He got pretty far -- he has dates and attendance numbers for a lot of the meetings -- but it appears that the White House caught on to his project. "By the end of yesterday afternoon," Smith writes, "all of those describing the briefings on the record had adopted a uniform phrase in response to a reporter's inquiries: They were, each official said, 'informational briefings about the political landscape.'"

By Tim Grieve

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

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