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Getting Burned While Cooking The Books?


(Photo via McAuliflower.  Love this perspective and that blue and white bowl.)

In corporate America, keeping two sets of books — one public, one private — can send you to jail.  Which makes this all the more interesting:

When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment….

Democrats say evidence suggests the RNC e-mail system was used for political and government policy matters in violation of federal record preservation and disclosure rules.

In addition, Democrats point to a handful of e-mails obtained through ongoing inquiries suggesting the system may have been used to conceal such activities as contacts with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is now in prison for fraud….

Some Republicans believe that the huge number of e-mails — many written hastily, with no thought that they might become public — may contain more detailed and unguarded inside information about the administration's far-flung political activities than has previously been available.

"There is concern about what may be in these e-mails," said one GOP activist who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

"The system was created with the best intentions," said former Assistant White House Press Secretary Adam Levine, who was assigned an RNC laptop and BlackBerry when he worked at the White House in 2002. But, he added, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  (emphasis mine)

Suddenly, that question about why Matt Cooper's phone call wasn't logged into the official White House phone log rears up in my mind. Was there a second set of books for phone calls on an RNC-paid-for phone line, too? And that e-mail to Hadley that was found only at the last minute, was that a e-mail?  We've all been asking about this the last few weeks, but isn't it time we started getting some answers about it?  And all the Susan Ralston-Jack Abramoff contacts? And calls? And…well, the list goes on and on and on, doesn't it?

But here's a hint for Rep. Waxman and his committee:

Some Republican activists say the e-mail request will not create great difficulty for the White House because nothing nefarious happened and because the RNC automatically purges some e-mails after 30 days.  (emphasis mine)

"Some" e-mails are purged?  Only "some?"  Not all e-mails, but only "some," eh?  Exactly who determines this "some e-mails" quotient for the RNC?  Is it anything from the White House that might be questionable legally?  Anything we wouldn't want the public to see?  Things that might be in violation of the Presidential Records Act?  How is it automatic that only some, and not all, e-mails are purged?  Who made that determination?  And why? 

Get your investigators to make a duplicate copy of the RNC servers on which these e-mails have been stored. Pronto. Have it done forensically, by the white collar crime folks at the FBI. They may say they purge "some" e-mails every 30 days, but there are likely still a large number of "some" of them there and recoverable…a large number of them…and I smell a big, fat, Turdblossom-reeking cover-up in the making. 

(H/T to reader "WB" for the link to the LATimes story.)

UPDATEPaul Kiel at The Muck has some thoughts on this as well, including this choice nugget:

Rove's habits are instructional. Rove, remember, has a White House address — as well as an RNC-issued blackberry and laptop. But according to a former White House official quoted in National Journal, Rove "does ‘about 95 percent’ of his e-mailing using his RNC-based account."  (emphasis mine)

Is it me, or does Karl have some 'splaining to do?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

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