White House officials held a series of at least 20 political briefings before the 2006 midterm elections and early this year for political appointees at numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Education.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, is investigating whether such briefings violated the federal Hatch Act, which governs federal employees on matters of engaging in partisan politics.
Rep. Waxman’s committee issued subpoenas on April 25 to the Republican National Committee requesting e-mails relating to the briefings, as well as any e-mails relating to the use of federal resources to assist Republican candidates for office. But the White House maintains that the Bush administration did nothing improper.
“There is nothing wrong with political appointees providing other political appointees with an informational briefing about the political landscape in which they are working,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said at an April 26 press briefing, according to a transcript. She said similar briefings occurred during President Clinton’s administration.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education declined to discuss the matter.
A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 2007 edition of Education Week