A government investigation has found a top Bush administration official broke the law by encouraging subordinates to use their power to support Republican candidates for office, sources tell ABC News.
In a draft report, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined Lurita Doan, head of the $56 billion General Services Administration, violated the Hatch Act, which bars certain partisan political activity by government officials and employees, according to sources familiar with the document.
OSC confirmed Doan asked other GSA employees to think how their agency could help "our candidates," following a 2006 PowerPoint presentation by the White House political office on Republicans in tight congressional races, sources told ABC News.
The agency contracts for services, supplies and real estate on behalf of the entire federal government.
Special Counsel Scott Bloch sent a copy of the draft report to Doan's office for comment last week, confirmed OSC spokesman Jim Mitchell, who declined to discuss the report's findings. She has two weeks to respond, after which Bloch will forward the final report to President Bush along with his recommendations for action. Bloch could advise the president to suspend or fire Doan for the infraction.
The report may place the White House in the awkward position of disciplining a senior official for taking political action in response to a White House political presentation. Despite Bloch's advice, experts say President Bush is not likely to fire Doan.
"You've had presidential appointees do worse and not generate presidential action," said Paul Light, an expert on the executive branch and professor at New York University. "I think he'll accept her protestation that she did nothing wrong, and he'll let her stand. That's just been his habit."
Neither GSA nor the White House responded to requests for comment.
Doan is currently facing a separate investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into charges she improperly intervened in contracting issues. The panel, which first revealed allegations of Doan's comments at the White House political office briefing, is also probing whether other agencies hosted White House presentations similar to the one at which the OSC reportedly concluded Doan broke the law.