Doan's attorney: OSC's report off the mark, unfair

A report by the Office of Special Counsel that states Lurita Doan, administrator of the General Services Administration, violated the Hatch Act is far off the mark and unfair and needs to be disregarded, her attorney, Michael Nardotti, wrote in a letter to OSC.

He also wrote that Special Counsel Scott Bloch prepared a premature and prejudicial provision of the draft and final reports, which were leaked to the media.

OSC has an obligation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, and it must fairly and impartially consider the facts and circumstances, something it has not done in Doan’s case, Nardotti wrote. No one can erase the stigma that now overshadows the case, he added.

According to OSC, Doan violated the Hatch Act when she allegedly asked, “How can we help our candidates?” during a presentation by a White House aide at a lunch meeting at GSA headquarters in January. The act prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan activity on federal property and during work hours. The aide’s presentation highlighted weak Democratic and Republican candidates in upcoming elections, and OSC believes Doan’s question indicated a desire to help Republicans.

Doan told OSC she didn’t pay much attention during the presentation because she was answering e-mail messages on her Research in Motion BlackBerry. OSC obtained Doan’s personal and government e-mail records and found no evidence that she sent any messages during the 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. meeting.

But OSC failed to mention the backlog of messages in Doan’s e-mail account, Nardotti wrote. His response states that Doan had received about 220 e-mail messages in the 48 hours leading up to the meeting.

Nardotti also wrote that Bloch’s report lacks any evidence of how the follow-up discussion at the meeting was connected to an election or a candidate.

“Indeed, the only reference to specific, future election campaigns occurred during the formal presentation by the White House representative,” he wrote.

Additionally, Nardotti wrote that OSC targets a single comment — “How can we help our candidates?” — which is disputed even among those who attended the meeting.

Doan’s response was due June 1 so it could accompany Bloch’s investigative report to President Bush, who will make the final decision about Doan’s future as GSA administrator.

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