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Entries in Illegal Campaigning (1)

Tuesday
Jan252011

Report: Bush Cabinet Officials Illegally Campaigned at Taxpayer Expense

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several high-ranking officials in the George W. Bush administration illegally used taxpayer-funded resources to campaign for Republican candidates during the 2006 midterm elections, an independent government watchdog concludes.

The Office of Special Counsel, which was created by Congress to investigate and prosecute federal employees who violate certain workplace standards, outlined the findings of its three-year probe in a report released Monday night.

The agency condemned overt electioneering by Bush appointees during the workday and the use of taxpayer funds to cover travel expenses for at least seven cabinet secretaries who were sent out on the campaign trail.

The Hatch Act of 1939 prohibits most federal employees from engaging in "an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group" while on the clock.

The findings in the Office of Special Counsel report are based on more than 100,000 pages of evidence, most of which are e-mails, and 80 individual interviews.

The agency began its inquiry in 2007, while Bush was still in office, after allegations were raised.

Typically, the OSC would now submit its report to the Merit Systems Protection Board, an administrative body that could sanction or fire federal employees who violated federal law.

But in this case, officials said Tuesday, no referral will be made because none of the subjects of the investigation still hold appointed office.

"We will not be filing a petition for disciplinary action because the Board doesn't have jurisdiction after the employees have left their jobs," said OSC spokesman Darshan Sheth. The agency has also not made any referrals to the Department of Justice for further investigation or prosecution.

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