STATE – Two New Jersey Republicans, Rep. Scott Garrett and state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., are mentioned in a report that concludes that White House officials improperly spent taxpayer compensated time focusing on 2006 campaigns.
The report, released earlier this month by the federal Office of Special Counsel, concluded that the White House Office of Political Affairs “was essentially an extension of the RNC (Republican National Committee) in the White House.”
The Office of Special Counsel took no action on the violations of the Hatch Act that it uncovered because the penalty is dismissal and all of the federal employees in question are no longer in position.
Garrett and Kean, who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2006, were not accused of any wrongdoing. They were among many Republican candidates mentioned in the report for receiving special attention from the White House staff.
According to the report, the OPA encouraged high-level agency political appointees to attend events with targeted Republican candidates in order to attract positive media attention to their campaigns.
“We have a number of Administration folks heading up to NJ in the next few weeks to help Kean as well,” reads one email from an OPA employee cited in the report.
The report also mentions that Kean’s staff asked OPA to provide a Cabinet Secretary or “someone like” White House spokesman Tony Snow or White House chief of staff Josh Bolton to speak at a pre-election event with the candidate. Kean’s staff ultimately declined the assistance, but an OPA employee responded “Please let Sara [Taylor] or I know if you need further assistance. We have a number of Administration folks heading up to NJ in the next few weeks.”
The report notes that after the election, OPA emails had a different tone. The OPA contacted the Department of the Interior about doing an event with Garrett, but said “because he had been reelected, doing an event with him ‘would be good, but not a push.’”
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