Meet Gov. Scott Walker’s New Political Hit Women
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The report by the Office of Special Counsel found that the taxpayer-funded activities of OPA employees “were directed at the electoral success of
Republican candidates and the Republican Party as a whole,” and that “U.S.
Treasury funds were unlawfully used to finance efforts to pursue Republican victories at the polls.”
“OPA was essentially an extension of the RNC in the White House,” the report stated.
Rove's OPA violated the Hatch Act throughout the Bush presidency, said the report, but particularly in the run-up to the 2006 midterm elections, when
Webster joined OPA.
Webster's Ties to Bush White House Email Controversy
The controversial role of the office in which Webster worked did not end after the 2006 midterm elections.
In 2007, it was revealed that OPA staffers had been using partisan Republican
National Committee email accounts for official business, such as the controversial firings of federal prosecutors who were not pursuing allegations of voter registration fraud. This practice circumvented the requirements of federal sunshine and ethics laws, such as the Presidential Records Act, which required that employees preserve a record of all communications taking place at work. The National Journal wrotethat Karl Rove sent 95 percent of his emails on his RNC account.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman requesting an investigation. As a result of that congressional investigation, the Bush administration claimed that 5 million emails had been lost or deleted. After a lawsuit, computer technicians were able to reconstruct some of the deleted messages and foundthat up to 22 million emails had been deleted.
Waxman’s investigation uncovered secret RNC emails from Webster, which showed she was very much involved in Rove’s shadowy White House political operation.
As the investigation proceeded, the RNC requested that searches of the emails be limited. In an April 2007 letter, Waxman noted that accepting the RNC's request to narrow the email search terms “would not have located a January 19, 2007, email from an official in Karl Rove's office to an official at the General Services Administration transmitting a copy of Powerpoint slides prepared by the White House that list the top 20 Democratic targets in 2008. That email read: ‘Please do not email this out or let people see it. It is a close hold and we're not supposed to be emailing it around.’”
Waxman's citation was an " E-mail from Jocelyn Webster, Staff Assistant, Office of Political Affairs, White House, to Tessa Truesdell, Confidential Assistant to the Administrator, General Services Administration (Jan. 19, 2007)." Webster was not charged with any crime for her participation in Rove's activities during her work for him from early 2006 until early 2007.
Webster's Role in "Pentagon Pundits" Operation
In early 2007, with public support for the Iraq war declining, Webster moved to the Pentagon's public affairs division.
In 2008, David Barstow broke a storyin the New York Times about the depth and breadth of the Defense Department's public affairs operation using "surrogates" to promote Bush administration policies in the press, without disclosing the Pentagon's hidden hand. The Center for Media and Democracy's John Stauber calledthe scandal “the Pentagon Papers of this war” in Iraq. CMD made the documents Barstow obtained available through its SourceWatchelectronic library. The Times won a Pulitzerfor its investigation.
One part of that program was describedin an earlier Harpers articleby Ken Silverstein, who identified Webster as working on the project. The so-called “Surrogates Program,” according to Silverstein, “arrange[d] regular conference calls during which senior Pentagon officials brief retired military officials, civilian defense and national security analysts, pundits, and bloggers...The Pentagon essentially feeds participants the talking points, bullet points, and stories it wants told.”