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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Karl Rove’s Campaigning in the White House

Remember the day after the election last November, a triumphant newly elected (for the first time) President George W. Bush introduced to a national television audience a beaming Karl Rove as “The Architect” of his winning campaign. Did you know that you, the taxpayers, paid for his salary and benefits while he was running George W. Bush’s political campaign day after day inside the White House?

Isn’t this illegal, you may properly ask? It would be if it were a staff member of a Senator or Representative in the Congress. Any such staffers would have to take an unpaid leave of absence, leave their office and set up shop somewhere else to work on their boss’s re-election campaign. To do this on the Congressional payroll would be illegal.

So what about Rove? Well, back in 1993, the two Parties got together and assured the passage of amendments to the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. 7521 et seq.) to decriminalize such behavior for Presidential appointees who work outside normal business hours. Karl Rove is one of those privileged employees paid by the taxpayer to run a political campaign while on the job because there is no objection from the out of power party that wants the same privilege when it occupies the White House.

Neither party bothered to ask the taxpayers for their opinion. But the politicos had to concede one obligation imposed on this political freeloading. People like Karl Rove can only do politics while on the job in a government building or in a government vehicle “if the costs associated with that political activity are not paid for by money derived from the Treasury of the United States.” Sec. 7324(b)(1).

Some official has to be able to show that Karl Rove allocated costs between his political activity and his non-political activity and that these expenses were not paid for by the government (i.e. you, the taxpayer).

It is not clear in the statute or the regulations who is the official who is supposed to get Mr. Rove’s accounting. Calls and letters to the White House resulted only in a response citing those vague regulations. The office of Special Counsel which implements the Hatch Act does not collect this accounting as a matter of course.

There is one pertinent prohibition in the regulations. Cutting through the verbiage, it is apparent that Karl Rove cannot engage in campaign fund-raising unless he quits his government job. Imagine someone in a public or news-gathering capacity accessing all those thousands of phone calls and e-mails made by Karl Rove and whomever assisted him in the White House.

The White House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Therefore a citizen or reporter cannot file a request for documents or reports under that important law.

So what can be done? A reporter could ask the question at a White House press briefing. For whatever it is worth, a complaint can be filed with the Office of Special Counsel. A request can be made of the Counsel to the President, Harriet Miers, for an allocation separating his expenditures in time and resources on political activity from the time spent as a staff assistant to President Bush. We made such a written request two weeks ago.

Or members of Congress can ask the Government Accountability Office to investigate and report back to them.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove continues his very political activities and travels around the country raising money for upcoming Congressional campaigns. It is a very convenient career, so long as you can get away with it. The self-described conservatives in the White House are on welfare in the midst of their warfare against the American worker.

For more information, log onto DemocracyRising.US and help get Karl Rove off of welfare and out of the White House.