Report: Bush White House violated Hatch Act

The Lexington Herald-LeaderJanuary 26, 2011 

FRANKFORT — Scott Jennings, a former political aide to George W. Bush with deep Kentucky ties, figures prominently in a new federal report that says the Bush White House violated a federal law that prohibits public money from being used to influence elections.

The report, released Monday by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, said Bush's White House Office of Political Affairs violated the federal Hatch Act by using government employees and tax dollars to help Republican candidates win elections.

Jennings, now the campaign manager for Kentucky Senate President David Williams' gubernatorial bid, is named throughout the report in his former role as deputy director of the Office of Political Affairs. The office was led by Karl Rove.

Darshan Sheth, a spokesman for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, said Jennings is not subject to any penalty because he no longer is a federal employee.

Sheth also said his office will not be making any referrals about its investigation to the U.S. Justice Department for possible prosecution.

Jennings said in a statement he was "extremely disappointed" in the findings. He said he performed his job duties according to instructions from the White House Counsel's Office, "which offered plain, written advice that my position exempted me from the requirements of the Hatch Act."

Spokesman Sheth noted the report on page 15 says Jennings was exempt from the Hatch Act's "proscription against engaging in political activity while on duty or in a federal workplace," but some political appointees were not.

The report also states: "OSC concludes that by virtue of their positions, the OPA director and deputy director, as well as some White House liaisons who required political appointees to attend the briefings, violated the Hatch Act's prohibition against using their official authority or influence to affect the result of an election."

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