Editorial: Departed Asset Deployer [Karl Rove]

From the August 23, 2007, New York Times:

In his victory lap of self-serving interviews, Karl Rove, the departed White House political guru, waxed humble. “I’m a myth,” he insisted. Wishful thinking.

The record of Mr. Rove’s damaging dedication to political polarization through government service remains for historians to fully track, from the purging of federal attorneys to the smearing of Iraq war critics.


But details are already emerging about the systematic visitations of his political operatives to supposedly nonpartisan departments of government. These “asset deployment teams” had master plans for using government offices to prop up vulnerable G.O.P. candidates, distribute taxpayer money as party tribute, and propagandize for the administration in key battle states and media markets.

A dozen such instances emerged in recent months, even involving the Justice Department. But The Washington Post has tracked more than 100 nakedly partisan events at nearly all cabinet departments and major agencies. These came with slide shows targeting vulnerable Democrats, party talking points and discussions of doling out tax-paid “assets” of government.

Every administration uses incumbency for politicking, but the Rove operation goes well beyond the normal exploitation of high office. Investigators already concluded that one PowerPoint séance at the General Services Administration violated the Hatch Act’s ban on office-hours politicking. After submitting underlings to a spiel on the top 20 targeted Congressional Democrats, the agency director, a patronage appointee, was quoted as issuing an open plea for the government-paid workers to help “our candidates.”

The independent watchdog looking for Hatch Act violations is reminding partisan appointees to “check those affiliations at the door when you do the people’s business.” That’s not in the operating manual for the machine Mr. Rove left behind.

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