White House forces resignation of embattled GSA chief
Dan Friedman and Robert Brodsky, Government Executive – April 30, 2008
Lurita Doan, the embattled head of the General Services Administration, resigned at the request of the White House, sources said Tuesday.
According to people familiar with the matter, the controversial agency administrator was summoned to the White House for a late afternoon meeting Tuesday, during which she was asked to step down.
Doan’s ouster comes nearly 11 months after the independent Office of Special Counsel concluded an investigation of Doan and called for President Bush to fire her for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using government resources for partisan politics.
“I would rather get fired for something I believe in, and a cause I was willing to fight for, rather than to believe in nothing worth being fired for,” Doan told Government Executive in an e-mail message.
The OSC probe dealt with a January 2007 meeting between Doan, GSA political appointees and former White House political aide Scott Jennings. After Jennings showed a PowerPoint slide show detailing Republican electoral plans Doan asked, “How can we help our candidates?”
Doan has consistently said she does not remember making such a comment.
But the OSC, citing multiple witnesses, concluded the statement was tantamount to instructing subordinates to use their offices to assist Republican candidates. “Doan solicited the political activity of over 30 of her subordinate employees,” Special Counsel Scott Bloch wrote in a June 8 summary of his office’s investigation.
Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) held an extensive exchange with Administrator Doan on that subject during the first hearing:
|GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, responding to Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01):
“I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit this but I can say that I honestly don’t have a recollection of the presentation at all.”
During the second hearing, Chairman Waxman responded to Republican accusations that the investigation, which was initiated by a Republican inspector general and has now resulted in her forced resignation by the White House, was nonetheless a partisan witch hunt:
“Now the problem with these people that were criticized by Ms. Doan were that they testified before this committee and that got her wrath. But as I pointed out those people as well were Republicans, some of them were Republican appointees at the GSA.”