- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2009

OSC ruling

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal investigative agency, found that a government election commission had refused a man a high-ranking position because he was a Republican.

OSC says two commissioners at the Election Assistance Commission, which serves as a national clearinghouse of information about election administration and certifies voting systems, rejected the appointment of a man to serve as the election commission’s general counsel because they didn’t like his politics.

According to an OSC statement released Wednesday, two commissioners “researched his off-the-job political activity or received contacts” about those activities and then voted to disapprove his appointment because they felt he was “perceived as politicized.”

“OSC’s investigation uncovered evidence indicating EAC illegally refused to approve the complainant’s appointment because he was a Republican,” the OSC stated.

“Without admitting fault, the EAC agreed to provide the complainant a substantial monetary settlement to resolve the issues that were the subject of his complaint,” OSC said.

The OSC also noted that its merit system requires employees to look only at qualifications, not political affiliation. OSC added, “and the constitutional right to associate with the political party of one’s choice means very little if one cannot freely exercise this right.”

OSC’s statement did not name any of the parties involved. OSC spokesman Darshan Sheth said the agency cannot provide any other information.

“The settlement agreement in this case … contains a confidentiality clause that precludes disclosure of the kind of information you are seeking. Additionally, we generally do not release names because of the Privacy Act,” he said.

A Republican lawyers group called the investigation’s findings “deeply disturbing.”

“Today, we learn that a non-partisan investigative arm of government has found that the Election Assistance Commission … denied a position they had previously offered to someone exclusively based on their political orientation,” said Michael Thielen, executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

“This is a deeply disturbing and troubling development and one that should merit scrutiny and interest by those same people who were enraged by the U.S. attorney scandal. It also calls into question the ability of the remaining Democrat appointed commissioner at fault to fairly administer elections and serve on the board.”

Tea party movie

There wasn’t a red carpet at the premiere for “Tea Party: A Documentary,” but there was AstroTurf.

FreedomWorks, a Washington-based advocacy group that promotes “less government, more freedom,” hosted the event at the Ronald Reagan Building on Wednesday night, when attendees happily mocked their critics by posing for photos on the AstroTurf. This was a jab at liberals, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who have said insurance, oil and pharmaceutical groups organized “tea party” participants as a form of fake grass roots, or “AstroTurf.”

The film celebrates grass-roots organizers who helped bring people to Washington on Sept. 12 for the massive tea party protest that was supported by anti-tax and limited-government advocacy organizations such as FreedomWorks. It tells the stories of five activists who made treks to Washington in hopes of reminding the government of its constitutional obligations and limits.

Among those on hand to commend the tea party movement was Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, who assured attendees that “there is nothing radical about following the Constitution.” Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Tom Price of Georgia and Joe Wilson of South Carolina addressed the audience as well.

“We thought it was important to have Joe here to keep us honest,” Freedom Works Chairman Dick Armey joked, making a reference to Mr. Wilson’s “You lie” outburst during President Obama’s State of the Union address earlier this year.

Boxer’s take

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is worried about the security breaches involved in the hacking of the so-called “climategate” e-mails from the University of East Anglia in Britain.

“You call it ‘climategate’; I call it ‘e-mail-theft-gate,’ ” Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, said during a committee hearing Thursday.

She was referring to e-mails that were hacked from the accounts of scientists at the University of East Anglia that exposed researchers discussing various ways to keep information on climate data from the public.

Mrs. Boxer said she was considering holding a hearing about illegal actions that were taken in obtaining the e-mails. “This is a crime,” she said.

Bernanke on hold

Progressives are thrilled that Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, put a hold on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s nomination for a second term.

Mr. Sanders, a self-described socialist, says Mr. Bernanke misread the economy in 2006 when he announced that it “continues to be well-positioned for long-term growth” when the housing crisis was looming and got it wrong again in 2008 when he predicted that the government-chartered mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “adequately capitalized.”

Now, Mr. Sanders says, “it’s time for a new coach.”

“The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed,” he said. “They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing. It’s time for a change at the Fed.”

Mr. Sanders’ hold cannot stop Mr. Bernanke’s reappointment, but it can delay it.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is backing the delay. PCCC quickly gathered more than 5,000 “thank you” notes for the hold and delivered them to Mr. Sanders on Thursday. PCCC also raised $10,000 for the senator overnight, according to PCCC co-founder Adam Green.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@ washingtontimes.com.

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