Latest News

Congress investigating White House in drug czar visits to Doolittle, other GOP candidates

Congress is investigating whether the White House improperly orchestrated taxpayer-paid travel by the nation's drug czar John Walters to host events with vulnerable members of Congress in 2006, including two events with Rep. John Doolittle and one with former Rep. Richard Pombo.

Rep. Henry Waxman, the Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the House Oversight committee, sent a letter Tuesday to former White House Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor asking how and why Walters and his deputies traveled to 20 events with "vulnerable Republican members of Congress in the months prior to the 2006 elections."

Waxman points to a post-election memo, obtained by the Oversight Committee, in which Taylor details the drug czar's "suggested event participation" in 2006.

Here's what Waxman had to say about the list:

The list of Republican officials named in your memo reads like a roster of the most vulnerable Republican members of Congress seeking reelection in 2006. Your memo identifies 29 events with 26 Republican officeholders. Assessments by political analyst Charlie Cook in October and November 2006 considered the re-election races of 23 of the 26 candidates identified in your memo as "competitive"; 15 of the races were listed as 'toss-ups." Your list included eleven Republican candidates who lost, ten who won their races with less than 53% of the vote, and two who won by fewer than 1100 votes. You included no Democrats or Independents in your memo of suggested travel by the (Office of National Drug Control Policy) Director.

The events with Doolittle, who bested Democratic challenger Charlie Brown in a tough-fought election, were on back-to-back days in April 11 and 12 in Nevada City and Oroville.

Doolittle, R-Roseville, was one of only three Republicans slated for more than one appearance with Walters or his deputies. The others were Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, who won reelection, and Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana, who lost in one of the tightest races in the country.

A month after the Doolittle events, one of Walters' deputies in the ONDCP traveled to Stockton for a "meth roundtable" with Pombo. The Tracy Republican lost his reelection bid to Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney in November.

Waxman also obtained an e-mail from Douglas Simon, the ONDCP's White House liaison, in which he recounts Karl Rove praising the office for its "surrogate appearances" leading up the election.

In his letter, Waxman requested that Taylor, the former White House political director, attend a committee deposition by next Tuesday and be prepared to testify before the full committee on July 30.

You can find Waxman's 10-page letter to Taylor here.

The committee also has posted the memo about "suggested event participation" from Taylor here.

And the e-mail in which Simon talks about Karl Rove here.