Bush administration financial misconduct and lack of accountability

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The following are examples of Bush administration financial misconduct and lack of accountability.

  • May 26, 2004: "Bush Campaign Spam Alert .... Plus!
The Bush administration is "outted" again with direct linkage exposed between taxpayer-funded government web sites, at least one taxpayer-funded radio address, ... and more ... and Bush/Republican election propaganda.
Hesiod at CounterSpin Central posted the May 26, 2004, "Bush Campaign Spam Alert."
First, he writes, "Search for this phrase on Google:
"New job figures and other recent economic data show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger"
"Then," he writes, "check out the Bush campaign website urging people to send letters with that exact phrase to their local newspapers."
A similar search on Yahoo! for "America's economy is strong and getting stronger" found numerous letters to the editor, including these:
Also see John McCrory's May 26, 2004, "The astroturf keeps growing. Bush press releases become letters to editor" in which he identifies more "spam mail".
However, taking the search one step further, checking out the White House's web page on Jobs & Economic Growth, finds the White House Fact Sheet: "112,000 Americans Find Work in January. Unemployment Rate Below Average Level of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s" dated February 6, 2004:
"New job figures released today and other recent indicators show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger, and that the President's jobs and growth plan is working."
The chain of events appears to be this:
First, in his January 10, 2004, taxpayer-funded radio address on the state of the economy, Bush opens with "As the year 2004 begins, America's economy is strong and getting stronger."
The radio address transcript is then posted online by media outlets such as Fox News, then becoming the source for any number of news headlines.
Next, the media compliantly employs the phrase, as in these February 9/10, 2004, Associated Press ("Bush: Economy getting stronger" and "Bush report declares economy recovering"), February 7, 2004, Reuters ("Job Growth Strong For Second Month"), February 9, 2004, CBS News ("Bush Issues Upbeat Econ Report"), February 10, 2004, AFP (published by Australia'sThe Mercury) (Bush predicts rapid economy)--and many other--news articles.
On February 10, 2004, the Associated Press's economics writer Martin Crutsinger reports that "President Bush told Congress ... in his annual economic report (the 412-page taxpayer-funded 'Economic Report of the President') that last year's tax cut was doing the job in reviving business growth ... Declaring that "America's economy is strong and getting stronger."
And the February 10, 2004, Christian Science Monitor clearly links President Bush's "Economic Report" with the campaign trail:
"Unlike his father, who appeared not to care about the jobless, the son is stumping around the Midwest touting an improving economy. For proof he is waving a new report from his own Council of Economic Advisers, predicting 2.6 million new jobs this year."
Other taxpayer-funded government agencies repeat the phrase, such as the Department of State, February 9, 2004, with the international posting of the President's "Economic Report", the Small Business Association, Illinois District, April 5, 2004, and the "Majority Message," U.S. Senate Republican Conference, May 18, 2004, headline: "New job figures and other recent indicators show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger, and that the President's jobs and growth plan is working." (scroll down to page 8).
And, ... unsurprisingly, ... the phrase can now be found on nearly every Republican Party web page boosting the Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. ticket for U.S. presidential election, 2004 such as these:
"New job figures released on May 7, 2004 and other recent indicators show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger, and that the President's jobs and growth plan is working."
  • May 20, 2004: Bush administration held accountable! Robert Pear, "Ruling Says White House's Medicare Videos Were Illegal," New York Times: "The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Wednesday that the Bush administration had violated federal law by producing and disseminating television news segments that portray the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly. ... The agency said the videos were a form of covert propaganda because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets. The agency also expressed some concern about the content of the videos, but based its ruling on the lack of disclosure." Additionally, the GAO said "the videos were 'not strictly factual news stories' and were flawed by 'notable omissions and weaknesses' in their explanation of the Medicare law. But the main problem, it said, is that they were 'misleading as to source'," i.e. Karen Ryan. However, the "consequences of the ruling were not immediately clear. The accounting office does not have law enforcement powers, but its decisions on federal spending are usually considered authoritative and are taken seriously by officials in the executive branch of the government." Also see Michael S. Gerber, "GAO calls Medicare video news releases illegal propaganda," The Hill, May 20, 2004.
  • May 19, 2004: Robert Pear, "White House Is Trumpeting Programs It Tried to Cut," New York Times: "Whether they involve programs Mr. Bush supported or not, the grant announcements illustrate how the administration blends politics and policy, blurring the distinction between official business and campaign-related activities."
Dan Morgan, in the May 9, 2004, Washington Post article "Military Spending Raises Questions. Lawmakers: Bush Bypassed Congress," writes:
"When Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio) went on an inspection trip to several Persian Gulf countries in the summer of 2002, he was dazzled by the state-of-the-art command centers, airstrips and other facilities being built there for the U.S. military.
"But he was also troubled. Some of what he saw or learned from military briefers had not been approved by the House Appropriations Committee panel on military construction, which he then chaired. 'I knew I didn't have that kind of money,' he quipped recently."
"Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld yesterday described the abuses of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison as 'an exceptional, isolated' case. At best, that is only partly true. Similar mistreatment of prisoners held by U.S. military or intelligence forces abroad has been reported since the beginning of the war on terrorism. A pattern of arrogant disregard for the protections of the Geneva Conventions or any other legal procedure has been set from the top, by Mr. Rumsfeld and senior U.S. commanders. Well-documented accounts of human rights violations have been ignored or covered up, including some more serious than those reported at Abu Ghraib. In the end, the latest allegations may be distinguished mainly by the fact that they have led to court-martial charges -- and by the leak of shocking photographs that brought home to Americans, and the world, the gravity of the offenses."
  • Paul Krugman adds on May 11, 2004, in his New York Times article "Just Trust Us": "Didn't you know, in your gut, that something like Abu Ghraib would eventually come to light? ... From the day his administration took office, its slogan has been 'just trust us.' No administration since Nixon has been so insistent that it has the right to operate without oversight or accountability, and no administration since Nixon has shown itself to be so little deserving of that trust."
  • May 4, 2004: The Boston Globe's Charlie Savage reports that "The Bush administration is coming under fire for allegedly allowing political concerns to determine what it deems to be sensitive national security material after a series of document declassifications that critics contend were timed for strategic advantage."
Savage says that "In several recent cases, the administration first refused requests for information by saying that releasing it would jeopardize national security, then released that same information itself at a moment when it became politically convenient to do so -- leaving the impression that it was safe to release all along."
  • April 9-26, 2004: Beginning on April 9, 2004, with the "April 15th Tax Day Reminder" featured on the IRS's web site, the Bush administration has been "outted".
  • On April 20, 2004, Mark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing.net posted the Republican National Committee connection on his blogspot, saying that "Taxpayers unwittingly [were] paying for Republican National Committee's propaganda."
Compare the OPA April 9, 2004, press release (look at the bottom of the page) with the RNC's April 2, 2004, "Fact Sheet" (bold phrase at the top of the next to last paragraph) to locate the following identical statement(s):
America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing, or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.
  • The April 24, 2004, Detroit Free Press editorial "The IRS shouldn't be taking official sides in the presidential election" states that the IRS included the same identical message "In four news releases distributed near the April 15 deadline for filing income taxes."
On April 20, 2004, WiserBlog identified "this little blurb" that went out in the four following IRS' press releases:[1]
  • 'April 15th Tax Day Reminders': 'Treasury and I.R.S. Work To Make Paying Taxes a Little Easier'
  • 'The 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief Plans Will Impact Income Tax Returns Filed'
  • 'Millions of Individuals and Families Are Benefiting From Tax Relief Plan'
  • 'Tax Relief Reinvigorated the U.S. Economy and Is Driving Job Creation.'
  • Additionally, Common Cause has issued the Action Alert "Treasury Plays Partisan Politics with Tax Dollars": [2]
"Clearly the implication is that if you don't vote for President Bush, your taxes will go up. Language identical to that in the Treasury Department notice shows up on the White House and Republican National Committee (RNC) websites."
  • Pat Morrison, in the April 26, 2004, edition of the Los Angeles Times writes that "Last-minute tax filers desperately e-rummaging through the IRS' website might have run across, at the bottom of several official government press releases, this boldface alarm: America has a choice: it can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the president's policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation.
"This is startling on two counts: one, by law, government functions -- such as official press releases written by workers on a public payroll -- and political functions -- such as promoting one political policy over another -- are twains that should never meet.
"Two, that press release language is syllable-for-syllable identical to the language on a Republican National Committee website from the week before.
"Now, Los Angeles Rep. Henry A. Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, tells 'This Space' he's all for his New York colleague Charles Rangel's demand for an investigation into this too.
"'Last month, the Treasury Department conducted campaign research on the Kerry tax plans,' Waxman says. 'Now it has issued press releases with language taken directly from the Republican National Committee. The Treasury Department is funded by the taxpayer and is prohibited by law from engaging in partisan politics. It should not be turned into an arm of the Bush reelection campaign.'
"Yes," Morrison comments, "but with all this extra work, did the IRS employees get their taxes filed on time?"
Note: Detroit Free Press link for this article requires purchase and the article is currently not available via waybackmachine.org.
  • April 21, 2004: In a similar vein, Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, who posted the foregoing on his web site, "outs" both the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Brookings Institution. Compare this CNA web page to the Brookings' web page. Marshall then says to check out Strobe Talbert's web page at Brookings. Comments Marshall: "Actually, a quick look under the hood of each site shows that either the CPA or Brookings snagged the other outfit's website and remodeled it as their own. ... The presence of this line ("submenu name="Brookings Review" id="brs" url="/press/review/rev_des.htm") buried in the code of both websites seems to give a pretty good sign of who did the deed." [3]
  • April 6, 2004: In his "The Buck Doesn't Stop" for the Washington Post, Richard Cohen writes: "But from the president on down, no one in this administration ever admits a mistake or concedes having been wrong. ... If, say, a Japanese government had performed as badly as the Bush administration has, there would be no one left to turn out the lights."
  • April 1, 2004: AP report: "House Leader Tom DeLay orders federal employees to analyze John F. Kerry's tax plan ... The Republican National Committee posted an interactive feature on its website that attaches the largest of those cost estimates to Kerry's plan to raise taxes paid by the wealthiest taxpayers."
Political Animal Kevin Drum comments: "So let me get this straight. White House healthcare adviser Doug Badger can't testify in front of Congress about Medicare because of executive privilege. But it's OK for the Majority Leader of the House to order up campaign talking points from the Treasury Department. In fact, it's 'proper, it's prudent, it's appropriate.' Hell, it's their 'obligation' to do it! ... Right. And of course the Republicans gleefully latch onto the largest of these estimates and plaster it all over their website. Sounds proper and prudent to me."
  • March 19, 2004: In their March 22, 2004, article for TIME, John F. Dickerson and Karen Tumulty relate that "Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month." [4] See photographic manipulation and Georgeland.
  • March 17, 2004: The UPI reports that "Democrats in the House and Republicans outside the House want the [House Ethics Committee] to investigate House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several committee chairmen, ... The critics are frustrated the panel is not looking into accusations of bribery and threats on the House floor, illegal use of campaign funds, misuse of a federal agency for political purposes, conflicts of interest, and strong-arm tactics against lobbyists and campaign contributors." [5]
  • March 17, 2004: Mike Allen, "HUD Files Detail Martinez's Fla. Trips", Washington Post: "Mel R. Martinez, a former housing secretary, repeatedly traveled to Florida at taxpayer expense before leaving President Bush's Cabinet in December to run for the Senate from that state, according to records released by the administration. ... Many of the trips generated newspaper and television coverage that allowed Martinez to elevate his profile before he became a candidate and had to spend campaign funds for his events."
  • February 4, 2004: Julie, "Your tax dollars at work," nastyriffraff.com: "Just two days after the White House proposed serious budget cuts and the President said he's 'calling upon Congress to be wise with the taxpayer's money,' the Bush Administration announced a massive taxpayer-funded television ad campaign to promote its controversial Medicare bill. Specifically, the White House will use $9.5 million from the Department of Health and Human Services - money that is supposed to be used to implement the law and could go to restore some of the cuts to social services for the poor - on political commercials that 'rebut criticism of the new Medicare law.' The TV ads will be augmented by $3.1 million in print, radio and Spanish-language ads. The effort represents an 'uncommonly aggressive campaign by the administration and congressional Republicans to promote legislation that already has become law' by using scarce taxpayer funds expressly for partisan political purposes at a time when lawmakers are trying to amend the bill. And while the White House claims to be very concerned with the deficits, the new ads - and the past record of opening the spigot of taxpayer money for partisan political purposes - raises questions. First and foremost, does the blatant misuse of taxpayer funds for political purposes violate federal law under 31 USC 1301(a) and 5 USC 7321? Secondly, how much other waste, fraud and abuse is being promoted throughout the government?"

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