Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 25, 2011

LOYAL BUSHIES FLAGRANTLY IGNORED THE LAW.... When we think of the Bush/Cheney White House we tend to think of policy failures, incompetence, comically flawed judgment, and systemic mismanagement.

But the failed Republican administration was also corrupt, routinely ignoring laws that interfered with its agenda.

At least seven Cabinet secretaries to President George W. Bush took politically motivated trips at taxpayer expense while aides falsely claimed they were traveling on official business, the independent Office of Special Counsel said Monday night in concluding a three-year probe.

In a report on allegations that first surfaced before Bush left office, the agency condemned what it depicted as widespread violations of a law restricting political activities by federal workers and illegal use of federal funds to engage in electioneering. [...]

This federally funded travel was organized, approved and closely tracked by Bush's political office, the Office of Special Counsel found, describing the activity as leading to the illegal diversion of federal funds and workers' time.

The report covered multiple areas of wrongdoing related to the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials from using their office to influence the electoral process, and found "a systematic misuse of federal resources."

There were, for example, several dozen mandatory briefings for federal employees -- during work hours and in federal office buildings -- in which White House officials instructed public employees on how they could help Republican campaign efforts. Bushies later described the briefings as "informational discussions," but all available evidence suggests that's a lie.

There were also the extensive travel expenses. In order to give the impression that vulnerable Republican lawmakers were important and powerful, the Bush White House arranged for cabinet secretaries to visit key campaign battlegrounds to give GOP candidates a public-relations boost. The law prohibits officials from using our money this way, and taxpayers were never reimbursed. When asked, Bushies said the trips were official government business. Like the rest of the defense, this wasn't true, either.

And in case that wasn't quite enough, Republican National Committee officials literally just moved their operations into the White House, to coordinate campaign efforts. This is illegal, too.

All of the transgressions were coordinated by the Bush/Cheney Office of Political Affairs, which was overseen by Karl Rove, and which is prohibited from using public funds for partisan political purposes.

In the Bush era, Rove's operation seemed to do nothing but use our money for partisan political purposes.

If you're wondering about the potential legal fallout of these revelations, the Office of Special Counsel, which released its report yesterday, said it no longer has any jurisdiction now that the Bush administration has left office. The Justice Department could conceivably pursue this, but it's given no indication that it intends to do so.

The report comes just a few days after the Obama White House announced it would shutter its Office of Political Affairs altogether, so as to avoid any misuse of public funds.

Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) recent claim -- he called President Obama's team "one of the most corrupt administrations" in recent memory -- is looking increasingly ridiculous all the time.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

-there was gambling at Ricks? Why am I NOT shocked. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 25, 2011 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

"The Justice Department could conceivably pursue this ..."

That is an adorable sentiment.

Posted by: Bill on January 25, 2011 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

What do you think the chances are that Mr. Issa will open an investigation and issue subpoenas to the former Bush administration officials?

Yeah, I thought so.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on January 25, 2011 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Yahbut Obama used the Loughner murders as a political convention!!

/snark

Fact is politicians from both sides do this and finger pointing wont stop the problem until the unelected masses, as a whole, demand that it cease.

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 25, 2011 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

As Obama has said "We have to move forward and not look backward."

This too, like all of the other criminal acts of the Bush administration, will be unprosecuted.

Precedence...

When Billy Bob Clinton took office, he shut down the still ongoing investigations into St. Ronnie's Iran-gate. Among the probable prosecutions that should have taken place were multiple persons who ended up being parts of the Bush-lite administration.

Consequences...

When our elected officials (I mean you Obama) decide to ignore their oath of office to uphold the laws of our country and to end investigations of previous administrations, it may be 'good politics' but it is horrible governance and administration of justice. When our elected officials decide to not investigate and prosecute crimes of prior administrations, they open the doors for the same persons to be back in future administrations. When our elected officials decide to not investigate and prosecute crimes of previous administrations, they open the gates for further and worse crimes in the future (if not in their own administrations).

Posted by: SadOldVet on January 25, 2011 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

And this is why I ultimately decided that whatever Julian Assange and Wikileaks reveal is good for our country.

There is no independent justice system in the United States. Bush killed it, with his administration's top-to-bottom corruption. And Obama buried it by refusing to have the Justice Department prosecute anything the Bush administration did -- from war crimes to the Interior Dept's. Bureau of Mines drug-fueled orgies, to prosecutions for non-existent "voter fraud".

Republicans and their allies are never held accountable, no matter what they do. So all that's left of to bring it out into the open and let history judge them.


Posted by: SteveT on January 25, 2011 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Obama's Justice Department should not ignore this nonpartisan prosecution brief. It details flagrant and widespread lawbreaking by the Bush Administration for partisan political purposes. This Admininistraion simply can't use fear of falsely being labeled a "partisan witch hunt" (though it doubtless will be). These false claims of partisanship -- and the fauxtrage it'll generate among dishonest right-wing pundits -- are designed to insulate corrupt Republicans from the legal consequences of their flagrant lawbreaking. Such transparent and sordid tactics must not be allowed to succeed.

Posted by: Gregory on January 25, 2011 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

I guess it 'ain't a crime, if you don't even threaten them with time.'

Well, in all honesty, these political crimes pale in comparison to actual WAR CRIMES!
In a better world, the Hague's and the nation's jails would be full of Bushista's.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 25, 2011 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

I guess the statute of limitations runs out on election day.

Posted by: martin on January 25, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

There are more than a few Republicans who will look you in the eye and tell you with complete and utter seriousness that the PPACA qualifies as unlawful electioneering because it is attempting to build a large constituency loyal to the Democratic Party.

That's the way conservatives think. Everything is political, or can be reduced to it--warfare, intelligence, economics, health care, science, history, transportation, sports, literature, art, film . . . eveything. Josh Marshall called is "the post-modern presidency". I think that captures the conservative mind perfectly.

Posted by: TT on January 25, 2011 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

And then there is Rick Perry who spent the state of Texas into oblivion, used stimulus money to cover up his overspending, then wrote an op-ed
against stimulus money. Now is trying to get government workers in his state to quit!

Posted by: JS on January 25, 2011 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Here in Virginia, TT, we can't get a law passed that will allow polls to stay open beyond regularly-scheduled closings on days of ice storms, snow storms, major traffic bottlenecks on the Beltway, etc. because Republicans believe it will somehow hurt their candidates' chances of getting elected... Yes, everything is political!

Posted by: pol on January 25, 2011 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

So what? I am beginning to see that all of this crap is like a Shakespeare's insight about life: "it's but a walking shadow a poor player who struts and frets his hour apon a stage and is heard no more. It's a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

We plow through this morass on a daily basis and are given truths that should mean something to law but don't. It's like picking out the culprit in a line up and the police saying "so what". It's tiring and most of all nauseating in it's volume and audacity.

Posted by: stevio on January 25, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Those working in the Bush White House took an 'oath of loyalty' to George W. Bush.

Any actions that they took that violated the laws or the Constitution were superceded by that oath of loyalty. As a previous president has said "I ordered it therefore it is legal". Therefore, no criminality can be attached to anyone associated with the Bush administration.

Case closed. Move along to something more meaningful!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 25, 2011 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, Issa's committee could investigate the OSC's conclusions in order to understand better what crimes might have been committed and spur the DOJ to respond.

Ha! That was fun. I think I'll go eat some more shrooms now.

Posted by: Basilisc on January 25, 2011 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

It's certainly plausible that prosecuting these crimes could bring false charges of a "partisan witch hunt", as Gregory predicts, thus greatly hampering the administrations efforts at other beneficial legislation.

At some point, a strategic decision has to be made as to what action, or inaction, will bring the greatest good for the greatest number.

Posted by: chi res on January 25, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

Basilisc,
'Sharing, is caring.' :-)

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 25, 2011 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Sheriff Scott of Lee County, FL spoke at a campaign event (in uniform) for McCain/Palin. He was "investigated" by the FBI for violation of the Hatch Act (a clear and obvious example of it). The investigation was later dropped and no prosecution carried out under the Obama administration. Scott was just reelected this last November.

Posted by: winddancer on January 25, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I propose a balance of terror. If the Issa of the House proceeds to investigate White House corruption, then the Senate should investigate White House corruption. If he handles this right, Joe Lieberman could win a CT primary.

Posted by: ragbatz on January 25, 2011 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Someday in my lifetime, I hope, Karl Rove will be taught how to frog march!

Book 'em Dano! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 25, 2011 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

This is such old news. The media was all over this when it happened and nobody seemed to care. Oh, wait--

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on January 25, 2011 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The Hatch act is a bit of democratic demagoguery , unless a Democratic officer is involved . Duh .

Posted by: FRP on January 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

If the MSM takes note of this at all, it will only be to lament the "criminalization of politics" as they did in the DeLay case.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on January 25, 2011 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

So Clinton covered for Reagan. Who covered for Clinton?

So Obama covers for Bush. Who does Obama feel will cover for him?

I throw down Burke to counter Shakespeare.
What's that saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

What's that saying about those who don't know (or ignore) history are doomed to repeat it?

What's the saying that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing?

Posted by: Skip on January 25, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

At some point, a strategic decision has to be made as to what action, or inaction, will bring the greatest good for the greatest number.

But I don't say that the Justice Department should ignore this blatant lawbreaking out of fear of false charges of partisanship. To the contrary, they should stand up to the Republican outrage machine and press charges anyway. To do otherwise not only gives the Bushies a free pass on their criminal behavior, but also -- and worse yet -- encourages them to break the law more, knowing they're insulated from consequences by their manipulation of the media.

Posted by: Gregory on January 25, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Ragbatz, in moments of cynicism I wonder whether the Obama administration may be quietly compiling a "PUD" file ("Politically useful dirt") for exactly that purpose. "Oh, Mr. Issa, you're issuing subpoenas? What a coincidence, so are we. Karl Rove, you can't claim executive privilege anymore and we'd like a chat with you."

Posted by: T-Rex on January 25, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) recent claim -- he called President Obama's team "one of the most corrupt administrations" in recent memory -- is looking increasingly ridiculous all the time.

Well, that's one way to look at it. The other take is that, once again, the public has misunderestimated George W Bush, as he has, in fact, set a tremendously high bar for Obama to clear if he wants to become head of "one of the most corrupt administrations" in recent history.

Posted by: majun on January 25, 2011 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing to see here. Didn't anyone tell you kids we're looking forward.

Posted by: Jamie on January 25, 2011 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

we still have an office of special counsel? learn something new every day

Posted by: Jamie on January 25, 2011 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

To the contrary, they should stand up to the Republican outrage machine and press charges anyway.

Damn the poor and oppressed, we've got a chance to put some Bushies in jail!!

Posted by: chi res on January 25, 2011 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

When I think of the Bush/Cheney regime, I think of war crimes such as lying to wage illegal wars of aggression, torturing, and using depleted uranium, white phosphorous, and napalm (Mark 77 firebombs) on cities with civilian populations.

Posted by: EDTHEREDPILL on January 25, 2011 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK
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