Bushies Behaving Badly
A guide to GOP scandals.
Posted Friday, May 11, 2007, at 12:11 PM
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Paul Wolfowitz in the World Bank With Nepotism The World Bank president and "Iraq war architect" allegedly helped his girlfriend get a generous salary package and promotion when she transferred to the State Department. Wolfowitz said an ethics panel approved the deal, but the panel denies it. An investigative committee found that the deal was a conflict of interest. (He apparently helped her career in the past, too.) Wolfowitz critics also allege that he used his position at the bank to promote a conservative agenda on family planning and global warming.
Federal Employees in the Department of Education With Corporate Ties Leading colleges have long received kickbacks for guiding their students to certain loan companies, but a new investigation into the practice has implicated the Department of Education. One department official was suspended for owning stock in a student-loan company called Student Loan Xpress. Loan companies also temporarily lost access to a federal student-information database because they were using it to find borrowers, not just to determine the eligibility of applicants. The House education committee is investigating —and Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is on the defensive. Six years ago, the Department of Education wanted to tighten restrictions on college/loan-company relations, but the Bush administration nixed it.
Bushies in the Election Assistance Commission With Fraud The Bush administration and Karl Rove pushed for U.S. attorneys and others to look into voter fraud more thoroughly, alleging that illegal immigrants (and dead people) are casting ballots. A couple of the recently fired U.S. attorneys said that they were pressured by Republican lawmakers to bring voter-fraud cases they didn't think warranted attention, and the president himself allegedly spoke to Alberto Gonzales about U.S. attorneys not pushing hard enough to find-voter fraud cases. Last year, the Election Assistance Commission, a federal panel, allegedly altered findings to make it seem like experts thought voter fraud was more pervasive than it really was.
Partisan Hacks in the Press With Bought Agendas Commentator Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote No Child Left Behind, while columnists Michael McManus and Maggie Gallagher got $10,000 and $21,500 respectively from the Department of Health and Human Services to push Bush's Community Healthy Marriage Initiative. After lobbing softballs to President Bush at a press conference, conservative "journalist" (and occasional gay escort) Jeff Gannon was accused of being a plant. Meanwhile, White House "video news releases" made it onto television news broadcasts. The segments, produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, used fake journalists to promote the Medicare expansion bill and were shown on local TV news shows, without any disclosure that they were basically government commercials.
Bernard Kerik in the Department of Homeland Security With the Nanny … and the Publisher … and the Mob … In 2004, Bush tapped former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security. The nomination fell through when it emerged that Kerik's nanny was an illegal immigrant. He also had an extramarital affair with publishing dynamo Judith Regan in an apartment donated as a rest stop for 9/11 workers, and he did business with the allegedly mob-linked Interstate Industrial Corp.
Karl Rove in the White House With the Delete Key White House officials allegedly used Republican National Committee e-mail accounts to conduct government business. As many as 5 million messages relating to official business may be lost because users were deleting them, in violation of White House rules requiring that e-mails be saved. Karl Rove says he thought the e-mails were being saved, but some allege that the deletions were a deliberate attempt to keep things off the official record. The missing communiqués interfered with the congressional investigation into White House involvement with the U.S. attorney scandal. The Senate judiciary committee has subpoenaed the Department of Justice e-mails to track them down.
Lester Crawford in the Food and Drug Administration With Tainted Stocks Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford recently pleaded guilty to conflict of interest and false reporting for owning stock in companies he oversaw as part of his FDA duties. He was fined $90,000 and sentenced to three years of probation. While heading the FDA, he owned stock in Pepsico Inc., Sysco Corp., and Embrex Inc., a drug company. His brief tenure was marked by debates about emergency contraception—he allegedly tried to keep Plan B from receiving over-the-counter status, contradicting the advice of an FDA expert panel.
Bushies in NASA With the Weird Science NASA scientist James E. Hansen accused Bush appointees of censoring global-warming info and limiting press access to top climate experts. George C. Deutsch, a 24-year-old writer and editor for NASA who had worked for Bush's 2004 campaign, resigned for lying on his résumé. Deutsch also made NASA Web masters add the word theory to every mention of the big bang.
The GOP Leadership in Congress With Dirty Money In 2003, Rep. Nick Smith said another congressman offered to donate $100,000 to his son's campaign fund if he voted in favor of a Medicare bill. Smith later recanted, saying there was no bribe—he was just pressured into the vote so his son would get an endorsement. In 2004, the House ethics committee admonished Tom DeLay for violating House rules by offering a quid pro quo and Rep. Candice Miller for appearing to make "threats of retaliation" by saying that Smith's son would never get elected if Smith didn't vote for the Medicare bill.
Bored Soldiers in Iraq With the Cameras Soldiers at Abu Ghraib took pictures of prisoners being mistreated. Several of those involved were court-martialed, and some were sent to prison, but they claimed they were acting on orders to soften up the prisoners for interrogation. The highest-ranking person to be held accountable was Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who headed the Army Reserve unit running the prison. She was demoted to the rank of colonel but claims she was merely a "scapegoat." Some critics wondered whether then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew about the scandal; Rumsfeld offered his resignation to Bush twice, but the president didn't accept it.
Holly Allen is a Slate Web designer.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project from Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that covers emerging technologies and their implications for society and policy.