"The Director [of the Office of National Drug Control Policy] and the Deputies deserve the most recognition because they actually had to give up time with their families for the god awful places we sent them."
-Karl Rove [pdf]
You've got to give Karl Rove credit for consistency on family values. According to documents obtained by Rep. Henry Waxman's Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, White House officials sent national drug czar John Walters and his deputies to attend 20 events with vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the run-up to the 2006 elections, often with juicy pieces of federal pork in tow in the form of federal grants to those members' districts, and all at the taxpayer's expense.
Fifteen of the events to which Walters or his deputies were sent by the White House occurred during the three months prior to the 2006 elections. Fifteen of the races in which ONDCP officials were ordered to bolster the Republican candidate were listed as "toss-ups" by the Cook Political Report [pdf]. Your tax dollars were busy at work so government officials could fly thousands of miles to make "surrogate appearances" to help elect Republican candidates in those "god awful places." But at least Rove appreciates the impact on their family life.
Waxman and his staff uncovered these activities in the course of investigating improper briefings given by White House officials to federal employees, in which strategies to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans were presented to those employees during work hours. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has already deemed that at least one of these briefings violated the Hatch Act, which forbids federal civil servants from engaging in certain kinds of partisan political activity.
Whether or not the actions of John Walters and his subordinates are also violations of the Hatch Act is open to question. One plucky drug policy reform organization certainly thinks so, branding Walters a criminal and calling for his resignation. But whether or not the law was broken it's hard to argue with Students for Sensible Drug Policy's pithy and disturbing summary: "Bush's Drug Czar uses your money to elect Republicans."
The actual job of the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is to develop effective strategies to reduce drug abuse and the problems associated with it. Regardless of whether you think most Republicans are on crack, that mandate does not include helping them secure re-election. If Waxman's investigation, not to mention the last six and a half years, have revealed anything it's the Bush administration's determined subversion of the operations of government for the sake of partisan advantage.
Perhaps most repellent is to see Rove unmasked, his utter contempt for the American voter and the heartland constituency he and his cronies claim to represent exposed. For the record those, "God awful places" for which Rove revealed such utter contempt include: Columbia, Missouri; White Plains, New York; Seattle, Washington; Nevada City, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Paramus, New Jersey; Lenoir, North Carolina; Charleston, West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky; South Bend, Indiana; Tuscon, Arizona; Columbus, Ohio and Great Falls, Montana. In the back rooms of power, that folksy demeanor of the Bushies certainly seems to give way to cynical chuckling at the expense of the rubes.