the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

March 29, 2007

GSA Toady Comes to Capitol Hill


You may have already seen the video, but this was too good not to preserve as text.

On Wednesday, Lurita Doan, Administrator at the General Services Administration, came to talk to talk to Henry Waxman’s committee. She was there to answer questions about a meeting this past January between GSA and Karl Rove’s Office of Political Affairs, a meeting that was by all appearances a Republican strategy session held in a government agency that is supposed to be nonpartisan. That’s why this was probably an illegal meeting.

Bruce Braley (IA-1) is the freshman Democrat who led the questioning. His focus was the Powerpoint presentation on recent Congressional elections that was given at this meeting by Karl Rove’s deputy, Scott Jennings.

BRALEY: Let’s look at Slide 578. This is the slide that has at the top “2008 House Targets Top 20″. … This slide is depicting Republican targets that identify Democratic seats that are vulnerable in 2006. Isn’t that what it says? … And it shows district by district the individual what the percentage of that district was in the 2004 election and what percentage that particular Democratic candidate received in the 2006 election. Correct?
DOAN: Yes, it appears… I-I-I honestly, I have not seen this chart until yesterday, I don’t remember, I mean, I really truly don’t remember seeing this chart until yesterday when I tried to dig it up and I have to say I don’t know what the explanation was that accompanies this. I truly do not remember this part of the presentation.

DOAN: [T]his was not my meeting, I did not convene it, I didn’t run the agenda of it, I did not invite… Scott Jennings to the meeting, I actually didn’t have any involvement in it.
WAXMAN: You were just there, though.
DOAN: I did attend the meeting. Yes, I was there, and I-
WAXMAN: Well I’m going to let Mr. Braley continue.
BRALEY: You would agree that a reasonable interpretation of this slide is that it was a political attempt to try to target the top 20 Democratic candidates for defeat in 2008.
DOAN: No, I would not say that. I would say that this was a slide that says “2008 House Targets Top 20.” I do not want to try to speculate what was intended by Mr. Jennings on the slide. I really think you have to ask him.

Sniff-sniff. Smell something?

Braley describes another Powerpoint slide: “2008 House GOP Defense”:

DOAN: (shrugging, hand gestures): Congressman, I-I-I’ll accept your explanation.

Braley describes another Powerpoint slide: “Battle for the Senate 2008″:

DOAN: Senator, I will accept your interpretation of this slide. Sorry — Congressman.

Now, then:

BRALEY: Can you tell us what, if anything, these slides have to do with the GSA’s core purpose of procuring supplies and managing federal buildings?
DOAN: This — brown bag luncheon — I believe, has been mischaracterized. This is a, uh, meeting that is a team building meeting [yeah, that’s the ticket!] that is hosted by our White House liaison, a GSA employee, a non-career employee, and it’s hosted every month…. We look upon this as team building. We’ve had a variety of speakers who speak in whatever area their area of expertise is. That’s what we do in these luncheons. I’m trying to build a superior management team at GSA, and any kind of team-building activities that I can do… [pause]
BRALEY: With all due respect, Ms. Doan, I don’t believe you’ve answered my question, which was to ask what these slides had to do with the GSA’s mission. I think the answer to my questions is clear: This was a partisan political briefing. It occured on GSA property during work hours and had nothing to do with the GSA mission. You identified team-building as one of the purposes of this meeting. Can you explain to the taxpayers of this country how this partisan political briefing helped with team-building?
DOAN: As I had said a little bit earlier, this is a brown-bag luncheon, it occurs on the lunch-hour of our non-career employees. This is not my slide presentation. And I really do ask you, if you need to have an accurate interpretation of what that Powerpoint slide presentation means, please, you know, I would ask you to ask Mr. Jennings. This was his presentation, and he was a guest at our meeting.

BRALEY: The Federal Hatch Act says you can’t use the workplace to engage in teambuilding for any political party. You’ve suggested that this wasn’t intended to have a partisan purpose in your presentations, and yet the Committee has been informed by multiple sources that after Mr. Jennings finished his presentation you took the floor, thanked him and then posed a question to the entire group of participants, and according to those witnesses, you stated: “How can we use GSA to help our candidates in the next election?” Now, reminding you that you are under oath, can you tell the Committee whether, in fact, you did make that statement?
DOAN: I do know that I’m under oath, and I will tell you that I honestly and absolutely, I do not have a recollection of actually saying that.
BRALEY: The Committee has interviewed and deposed witnesses who participated in the briefing. … One of those, Justin Bush, is a Republican political appointee at GSA, and he was quoted as saying that your comment was “How can we use different GSA projects, building openings and the like, to further aid other Republicans?” Do you have any reason to doubt Mr. Bush’s memory?
DOAN: I honestly, I have told you, I do not have any recollection of saying that, but I do know, I have been brought to understand that there is actually a difference of opinion among the attendees about what, exactly, was said.


BRALEY: Well, another attendee, Jennifer Milligan, is the Deputy Director of Communications at GSA and also a Republican appointee. She stated that you said, quote “how we could help Republican candidates.” Do you remember saying that?
DOAN: I have no recollection of saying that.
BRALEY: Do you disagree with your own press person that that comment was made by you….?
DOAN: Congressman, I don’t how many times I’ve said this, for the fourth or fifth time, I honestly and absolutely have no recollection, but I will tell you that the IG has requested an investigation from the Office of the Special Counsel into this matter. That investigation to my knowledge is still open, it’s currently running. We at GSA… are cooperating fully, and I would actually ask you to please allow the investigation to run its course.

How, exactly, would the House Oversight Committee derail other investigations? Also, not sure how smart it is to criticize the idea of Congress doing investigations when you’re sitting in front of the House OVERSIGHT Committee.

BRALEY: Well, part of our function here is to perform Congressional oversight which by its very nature includes investigation. That is the purpose we are here today. Another attendee, the Chief Acquisitions Officer of your agency, Emily Murphy, also a Republican political appointee, said that at the meeting you stated, quote, “How can GSA help our candidates or help position our candidates?” Her assistant, Christy-Ann Monica (phonetic), backs up her account, and said that you said, quote, “How can we help our candidates in the next election?” We also have a statement from Matthew Cisp (phonetic), the special assistant to the Regional Administrator for Massachusetts, likewise a Republican political appointee, as well as Michael Berkholtz (phonetic), a senior advisor to the Chief Acquisition Officer at GSA. These are not partisan Democrats attacking you as you have alleged. These are statements from 6 different Republican appointees who work at GSA, and they all told us the same thing about your making express reference to political comments during this meeting. Do you think all of these people are lying?
DOAN: I cannot answer for what them. I can only answer for myself and I will tell you that I honestly have no recollection of making that statement.
BRALEY: Giving you one last chance to clarify the record. I’m going to ask: Did you ever make the statement “How can we use the GSA to help candidates in the next election?” or words to that effect?
DOAN: [Dramatic pause] Congressman, [dramatic pause, shifts chair] I cannot — recollect — making — that statement.

BRALEY: You don’t believe that you could be perceived as having participated in a meeting where partisan political politics was the main subject with GSA employees in attendance on GSA property and asking a question which you cannot recall where you talk about helping “our candidates” — how that could be perceived as maybe being possibly clouded by partisan political judgment?
DOAN: I do not believe that this was an inappropriate meeting. I believe that all around government there are non-career employees who meet to discuss different ways to advance policies and programs within the administration, but that is NOT the same as asking federal employees to engage in partisan political activities in the workplace. I simply do not — [pause] have anyrecollectionofhavingsaidthat [Yay! Time’s up!].
WAXMAN: Gentleman’s time has expired….

To sum up:

So what does that leave us with? Let me suggest:

Where are you?
We got some work to do now.

And Rita-Do, if you come through we might be able to expedite some Rita Snacks!
No, no tax!

You’re my boo,
You’re ready and you’re willing,
We can count on you,
Rita-Do, you don’t worry ’bout no Demo grilling.



  1. At least some of our House members are getting to use the revealed list of Rove targets in their fundraising messages. I’ve gotten e-mail from Joe Sestak, Jerry McNerney, and Stephanie Herseth, all asking for money so they’ll be prepared to fight back against the Republican onslaught they expect for being on the list. Not that I’ve given them anything at this stage, but I wish them luck.

    Keith11:37 am, March 30

post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

Upcoming Events

See information on the revived DC chapter (2012).

DCDL Member Blogs

DCDL Speaker Links

DC Links

Liberal (Mostly) Blogs

Liberal Groups

Internal Links


Drinking Liberally

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


Search Blog



46 queries. 0.506 seconds