(Great image via Nthel.)

The next time someone asks me why we worked so hard on Blue America and promoting Democratic candidates in the 2006 election cycle, I'm throwing this at them:

Reflecting on the years he [Waxman] spent in the wilderness of minority status, he said that when Republicans controlled the oversight committee during Bill Clinton’s presidency, more than 1,000 subpoenas were issued to the executive branch.

“When President Bush took office, I saw the other extreme,” he said. The Republicans who controlled the committee issued only four subpoenas in six years to executive agencies, he said, and none directly to the Bush White House.

The ability to investigate is part of Congress’s authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch, which is separate from its more well-known function of enacting legislation….

Nothing like dropping the ball entirely, is there, rubber stamping Republicans?  Especially in light of the fact that some human beings will push the edge of the envelope as far as they possibly can unless someone yanks them back from the edge.  To wit:

White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said….

Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources — including office buildings, phones and computers — for partisan purposes….

A smaller White House briefing was also conducted every two years for what Mills described as the department's senior political staff, including Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez. He could not explain why that meeting was separate from the others.

Twenty-eight political appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency attended such a briefing last July 17 at the White House executive office complex, and an unknown number attended one at those offices the following month, according to EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood. She said that Jennings gave the presentation at the first meeting and that Sara M. Taylor, who directs the White House Office of Political Affairs, gave the second one.

Spokesmen at the departments of Veterans Affairs and Transportation also confirmed that their political appointees received such briefings at their headquarters. Stanzel confirmed that they were also given at the departments of Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Education, Agriculture and Energy, as well as NASA, the Small Business Administration, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

By the end of yesterday afternoon, all of those describing the briefings on the record had adopted a uniform phrase in response to a reporter's inquiries: They were, each official said, "informational briefings about the political landscape."  (emphasis mine)

Hmmmm…what a coincidence that these "informational briefings about the political landscape" just happened to occur every two years, isn't it? Let's see…what happens every two years? Oh yes — Congressional elections.

Golly, you don't think there was some intent to push the vast resources of the Federal government into action on behalf of Republican candidates and against Democratic ones, do you?  Because that would not only be against the law, but also highly unethical, smarmy and outright cheating.  As Josh said this morning, the WH strategery at this point can be summed up as "plausible deniability."  (and does the coordinated messaging strategy on this say "Frank Luntz focus group" to anyone else?)

Well, I'm not buying it.  Not when they are working this hard to divert attention elsewhere.

Paul Kiel at The Muck spells out all of the major points on this in detail — and it isn't pretty.  And emptywheel has sunk her teeth into this as well — this is getting very interesting.  As if that weren't enough, Laura Rozen has some information on the MZM e-mail dump.  As for all those outstanding WH RNC e-mails?  Some prominant names on the list that ThinkProgress has — and one wonders just how many governmental e-mails were set out over this unsecured server over the past few years?

We have found out a lot of the details on all of this in a matter of months, with the little bit of oversight that the Democrats have been able to do.  Were the Republicans still in charge of Congress, all of this would have continued to be swept under the rug.  This is why elections are important, why citizens ought to be active in monitoring their government and in holding their elected officials accountable…every single day.

It is well past time for the unilateral boy king and his political minions operating out of the smarmy shadows to be taught the fundamentals of the Constitution and the true meaning of the word accountability.  (Hint:  it does not mean enabling or running away from any and all responsibility for law breaking, failure or any other problems.  FYI.)  Now, bring on the sunshine.

PS — While we're talking about oversight — can someone on one of the Judiciary Committees haul in some Pentagon brass and folks from the DoJ to explain how further limiting access to legal counsel is consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the principles that the United States has stood for over the years in terms of human rights and the rule of law?  Because this is absolutely infuriating and appalling and inconsistent with our long history of jurisprudential principles.  And I am disgusted that this is what we now stand for as Americans — screw the rule of law and the Bill of Rights, is that about it these days?

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.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com