George W. Bush’s White House Office of Political Affairs violated the law by giving political briefings to political employees, concludes an Office of Special Counsel report issued Monday, nearly five years after the fact.
The report, titled “Investigation of Political Activities by White House and Federal Agency
Officials During the 2006 Midterm Elections,” finds that the electoral success of the Republican Party and possible strategies for achieving it often were on the agenda at some of 75 political briefings at 20 federal agencies from 2001 to 2007, the Associated Press reported.
OSC found that “White House Office of Political Affairs (OPA) employees, as well as
high-level agency political appointees, violated the Hatch Act through a number of practices that were prevalent during the months leading up to the 2006 midterm elections,” they said in a news release.
“Because most of the briefings took place during normal business hours and in government buildings, many of the briefings implicated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal workplace,” the report found.
According to OSC, the report (embedded below) investigated:
1) the transformation of OPA from an advisory office to the President into a campaign organization that worked directly with the Republican National Committee to achieve electoral success for Republican candidates; and 2) the improper use of U.S. Treasury funds to support Republican campaign activity.
Notably, OSC itself was highly politicized during the Bush administration. OSC Chief Scott Bloch called Geeks on Call to have them scrub computers during an investigation into whether he was retaliating against employees.