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More Problems at GSA

Posted on by Jesse Lee

Three weeks ago we covered the efforts of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to examine a no-bid contract awarded by the General Services Administration to Edie Fraser, with whom GSA Administrator Doan had a longstanding personal and business relationship. The Committee highlighted the following email from Fraser to Doan written prior to the awarding of the contract:

“Lurita, I will do anything for you and will do for the rest of my life… But I have spent so much time at GSA from the report planning to these sessions with ZERO $$. How do we solve”

A larger story in the Washington Post today discusses some of what this ongoing investigation has found in this matter. From late in the piece:

GSA Chief Is Accused of Playing Politics
By Scott Higham and Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post – March 26, 2007

Between 2003 and 2005, Fraser billed Doan as much as $20,000 a month in consulting fees to “generally promote attributes” of Doan and her company, New Technology Management Inc., according to invoices obtained by The Post. In all, Doan paid at least $417,500 to companies affiliated with Fraser before Doan took over the GSA, according to Waxman’s investigators.

Last year, Fraser helped prepare Doan for her GSA confirmation and lined up political support for her, according to interviews and e-mails obtained by The Post.

On July 25, two months after Doan took office, she took the unusual step of personally signing the no-bid arrangement with Diversity Best Practices and Business Women’s Network, firms then run by Fraser, to produce a report about GSA’s use of businesses owned by minorities or women. The GSA’s general counsel at the time, Alan R. Swendiman, told Waxman’s investigators he was “alarmed” that the project was not competitively bid.

Last month, in a letter to Waxman’s committee, a senior GSA official called the no-bid arrangement a “procedural mistake.” Doan told The Post that she submitted a service order for the work through normal GSA contracting channels and did not focus on it afterward.

But Swendiman, now a special assistant to President Bush, told Waxman’s investigators that he “immediately and repeatedly” advised Doan to terminate the arrangement. When he was unable to persuade her, Swendiman directed a GSA contracting officer to terminate the arrangement. The investigators found evidence indicating that Doan continued to try to find ways to award the project to her friend.

But this matter is not even the primary focus of today’s piece, which leads with this: “Witnesses have told congressional investigators that the chief of the General Services Administration and a deputy in Karl Rove’s political affairs office at the White House joined in a videoconference earlier this year with top GSA political appointees, who discussed ways to help Republican candidates.” These new allegations of the inappropriate use of government agencies for partisan political purposes also involve Scott Jennings, the White House’s deputy director of political affairs, who works for Karl Rove and has also been shown to be involved the controversy surrounding the resignations of US Attorneys. Despite initial claims that the White House was not involved in those decisions, it was later revealed that the appointment of Tim Griffin as a replacement for one of the US Attorneys was “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.,” according to an email from former Justice Department chief of staff Kyle Sampson. Indeed, the following email from Jennings, sent from an RNC email address, shows his involvement:

From: SJennings@gwb43.com [Scott Jennings]
Sent: Aug. 18, 2006
To: Kyle Sampson; Monica Goodling
Subject: RE: Conf Call, re: Tim Griffin

Can we get a call together on this Monday or Tuesday — after you are back, Monica?

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