An internal House Republican staff memo states: “She is an unabashed partisan with a track record of supporting Democratic candidates and causes. GAO is one of the last non-partisan political organizations left in Washington D.C.”
Ms. Bilmes, who teaches budgeting and public finance at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, objected to this characterization during an interview with The Washington Times. She said her body of work is far more extensive than those cited by Republicans. She said she will change her party registration to independent if she becomes comptroller general.
“My response is the issues I worked on, which included issues related to the federal debt and deficit and human resource situation in government and the cost of the Iraq war and the pension situation at the state and local level, are really issues that affect everyone,” she said. “I really don’t think they are partisan issues. I don’t see this as a partisan job. I certainly would not be partisan. I think I have hundreds and hundreds of students who are Republicans, Democrats and independents who would, and do, vouch for my nonpartisanship.”
About her financial support for Democrats, Ms. Bilmes said: “When we wrote the Iraq book, because it was a New York Times best-seller, I earned some money on the book. I gave money back to a range of charities and I also contributed to the candidates. I felt very strongly it was important to the country at that point to conclude the Iraq war. Anyone who is a candidate for comptroller general, unless they have been, as it were, seeking the comptrollership since the age of 5, is going to be a person who participates to some extent in the electoral process in the country.”
She declined to comment when asked whether she had been interviewed by the White House.
The GAO directorship has been vacant since 2008, when David Walker resigned to become head of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonprofit, anti-deficit group.
The selection committee worked for months to come up with a bipartisan list. The talks ended last month, when Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi sent a letter to the White House recommending Ms. Bilmes and Mr. Platts, Mr. Dodaro and Mr. Goldstein.
According to the Republican staff memo, there was unanimous, or near-unanimous, support for all candidates except Ms. Bilmes. “Platts knows his name is being put on the list just so they can say they have a Republican on the list and feign bipartisanship,” the memo states.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and three other Republican committee members sent Mr. Obama a letter March 25 saying Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid cut off negotiations. The letter said they could support three candidates on the Democrats’ list, but not Ms. Bilmes, signaling a tough confirmation battle if she is nominated.