From the Washington Post:
As you know by now, GSA chief Lurita Doan has resigned. She said she did so at the request of the White House, but no one has been able to answer the question: Why now?
After all, both she and the White House stood firm in the face of intense criticism for almost a year, since the Office of Special Counsel urged the president to discipline her “to the fullest extent” for alleged violations of the Hatch Act. She has kept her head low for the most part in recent months.
The White House had any number of reasons to demand that General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan resign, which she did yesterday evening. Top of the list was probably when the independent Office of Special Counsel found last May that she was in violation of the Hatch Act, the law that’s supposed to keep partisan politics out of the federal bureaucracy.
But it would appear that Doan is finished not merely because of political maneuvering that backfired. While Doan’s violation of the Hatch Act has attracted the most national attention, it is her constant battles with employees at the GSA’s office of inspector general that have most marked her two-year tenure. The fact that she again blasted the people who audit GSA contracts may be the real reason for her dismissal.
Since becoming head of GSA, Doan has been in near-constant struggle with agency Inspector General Brian Miller. Doan has equated Miller with a terrorist for doing his job of auditing government contracts awarded by GSA. When Miller said that Doan was harassing and intimidating office of inspector general employees, Doan turned the tables and said it was Miller committing the harassment.
Vincent Mulloy, counsel to the inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service, found the charges against Miller groundless. Last March, Mulloy dismissed the harassment charges as “personnel management” concerns. “The complaint should be considered without merit, and closed, to end the distraction of GSA office of inspector general personnel from their duties,” Mulloy wrote.
In response to the National and Community Services findings, Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Ia.) wrote a letter dated April 15 to Doan, telling her to consider the harassment matter closed.
Grassley’s words were not heeded. Friday, Doan told Government Executive that her pursuit of Miller would not be dropped.
Doan’s email exchange with Government Executive’s Robert Brodsky looked like a full-blown return to her flamboyant past, when she was publicly unapologetic about possible Hatch Act violations, as well as charges of threatening employees and rewarding no-bid contracts to friends. Doan vowed to Brodsky that she will stay on the harassment issue “like a dog on a bone.”
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment at a press conference today about whether Doan’s continued pursuit of Miller was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Employees at the GSA’s Inspector General office described the mood as one of surprise and relief this morning.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, had called on Doan to resign in June due to the Hatch Act allegations, employee intimidation charges and possibly committing perjury in testimony before the committee.
That Doan managed to stay in office after the independent Office of Special Counsel recommended she step down last May for Hatch Act Violations and employee intimidation was remarkable. It would seem that any further slip might force the White House to dismiss her, something that lawmakers and newspaper editorial boards widely called for and expected.
Here’s a little history on how Lurita got the job at the GSA, from wiki:
Between 1999 and 2006, Doan and her husband, Douglas, a former military intelligence officer and business liaison official at the Department of Homeland Security, donated nearly $226,000 to Republican campaigns and causes.
Doan, a Republican Party member, was cited by Vice President Dick Cheney in a speech at the Small Business Administration in 2003. She met with President George W. Bush as a woman small business owner in 2004. In 2004, she addressed the Republican National Convention.
Being rich and donating to Rethugs seems to be the only qualification needed to get a job from Chimpy:
On April 6, 2006, Doan was nominated by President George W. Bush to head the General Services Administration. She was confirmed by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate on May 26 and was sworn in as the 18th administrator of GSA on May 31.
From Government Executive , May 23, 2007:
A report from the federal agency that investigates allegations of illegal political activity in the government has concluded that Lurita Doan, the head of the General Services Administration, violated the Hatch Act.
The 21-page report from Scott Bloch, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, has not been made public, but the independent agency sent Doan a copy for her review on Friday, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The facts gathered by OSC investigators “establish that Administrator Doan violated the Hatch Act,” by inducing “her subordinates to engage in the type of political brainstorming session that is prohibited from occurring while the political appointees are on duty or in a federal workplace,” the May 18 report, obtained by Government Executive Wednesday, stated.
The Hatch Act limits political activity in government agencies. OSC’s investigation focused on Doan’s role in a Jan. 26 meeting at GSA headquarters where Scott Jennings, special assistant to the president and a deputy of Karl Rove, showed a 28-slide PowerPoint presentation to more than 30 GSA political appointees that analyzed the results of the 2006 midterm election.
Several of the political appointees who attended the meeting testified that during a question-and-answer period following the presentation, Doan asked how the agency could help Republican candidates. The exact words Doan used differ among the witnesses according to the OSC report, but the investigators said in the report that this did not prevent them from determining her intent.
“One can imagine no greater violation of the Hatch Act than to invoke the machinery of an agency, with all its contracts and buildings, in the service of a partisan campaign to retake Congress and the governors’ mansions,” the report stated.
Doan has said she does not remember making the statement in question.
Ahhh, the Chimpy-employee self-induced amnesia strikes again!