Today’s Must Read

April 30, 2008 10:01 a.m.

It’s the Bush administration’s special approach to accountability: stand staunchly beside an administration official as the allegations pile up and his or her credibility dwindles to nothing, and then months later — long after the administration could derive any credit for the deed, and it is widely assumed that they are content to let the official fester in office for the duration — the official abruptly and inexplicably resigns. So it was with Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales. And yesterday General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan stepped down.

But Doan, who gained mucky prominence for her clueless cronyism, wants everybody to know that she’s not stepping down voluntarily. She was fired. And not only was she fired, but she was fired because she refused to cave to political pressure. Or something.

“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.” That’s what Doan told Government Executive in an email last night. It’s far from clear precisely what this “something” she believes in is.

What we do know is that last June, the Office of Special Counsel recommended to the White House that Doan be fired for violating the Hatch Act. And that same month, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) told Doan to her face during a House oversight committee hearing that she should resign. And now, nearly a year later, the White House summons her for a meeting and asks for her resignation.

To refresh your memory on Doan’s parade of horribles: her Golden-Duke-nomination-worthy testimony came in response to a meeting in early 2007, where Karl Rove’s aide Scott Jennings came to brief GSA staff on the prospects for Republicans in the 2008 elections. The PowerPoint presentation detailed which seats were “House Targets” and which “Senate Targets”, which states were “Republican Offense,” and which “Republican Defense.” For those who’ve never witnessed this proud moment in administration history, Doan’s initial blubbering testimony on the topic is worth a watch:

After the presentation, Doan asked Jennings in front of everyone how GSA projects could be used to help “our candidates.” Jennings replied that topic should be discussed “off-line,” the witnesses said. Doan then replied, “Oh, good, at least as long as we are going to follow up.” At least, that’s the version given by “half a dozen witnesses” to The Washington Post and the Office of Special Counsel. Doan just couldn’t remember saying anything like that.

And then there was Doan’s alleged retaliation against employees who gave information to the Office of Special Counsel. Those were poor performers, she told investigators, and “[u]ntil extensive rehabilitation of their performance occurs, they will not be getting promoted and will not be getting bonuses or special awards or anything of that nature.” In another cringe-inducing turn before Waxman’s committee, Doan tried to explain away that comment by saying she had been employing the “hortatory subjunctive” — an explanation remarkable for not only failing to exculpate her, but also being grammatically incorrect.

We’ll miss you, Lurita.

Update: Government Executive reports that the timing of Doan’s resignation might have something to do with her ongoing feud with the GSA’s inspector general.

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