Sunday, August 19, 2007

Did Bush Cabinet members aid candidates?

Did Bush Cabinet members aid candidates?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Bush administration political appointees appeared to help Republican candidates at U.S. taxpayer expense, a newspaper investigation found.

McClatchy Newspapers reviewed public appearances and grant announcements by top officials between 2001 and 2006. McClatchy was also told that the White House arranged 10 political briefings for Commerce Department officials and four at the Treasury Department that provided details on congressional battleground districts.

The House Oversight Committee is looking into potential violations of the Hatch Act. Under the law, cabinet members can appear with congressional candidates and attend political briefings, but may not use public funds for partisan purposes.

The committee has found "a number of remarkable coincidences," one congressional aide told McClatchy.

The newspaper found that White House Drug Czar John Walters made 20 trips paid for by taxpayers to appear with Republican congressional candidates in 2006. Commerce Secretary Don Evans made eight appearances with candidates in swing districts or in key states to announce grants -- appearing on two occasions with Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., who was in a tough contest for re-election.