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The People's Business, Not Bush's

The president should stop using taxpayer money to fund West Wing electioneers

By The Crimson Staff

In an article this June profiling Tim Goeglein, “the official White House liaison to conservatives and to Christian groups … and [Karl] Rove’s legman on the right,” The New York Times—hardly known for its soft touch—neglected to mention something important.

Goeglein—busy courting the conservative votes that are a “top political priority” for President Bush—is being paid with taxpayers’ money. In fact, taxpayer dollars are also funding parallel White House ambassadors to big business, Jewish groups, high-tech companies and others. And while the president’s press secretaries will claim that this sort of outreach strengthens public policy, the line between their government responsibilities and the goals of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign is obviously blurred.

Clearly, previous presidents—Democrats and Republicans—have played the same game. Harold Ickes, the deputy White House chief of staff under President Clinton, famously helped manage Clinton’s re-election campaign from inside the West Wing. But a squalid past is no excuse for a sordid future.

The president should deal with this issue immediately. The solution cannot be simply to ban government employees from doing anything related to the campaign—after all, anything the White House does, good or bad, has an effect on the presidential race.

But Bush could issue an executive order requiring any government employees—from White House “Senior Adviser” Karl Rove on down—to resign their public offices if an independent panel on presidential ethics judges their role to be more partisan than public-spirited.

Since 1829, when newly inaugurated President Andrew Jackson opened the White House doors and invited ordinary citizens wearing “dirty boots” to meet their new commander-in-chief, the White House has represented something more than the residence of America’s chief executive. It is the people’s house. And those who work in it should know that they are there to do the people’s business.

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