Federal Computor World magazine
Doan’s BlackBerry talks
Published on May 28, 2007
You know that you didn’t have a good week if your name is uttered in the same breath as the Bush administration’s punching bag, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Last week, Lurita Doan, administrator at the General Services Administration, managed to reach that esteemed pinnacle.
Many people have tuned out the whole Doan drama, with its many twists and turns. The entire Doan affair has left many in a quandary about how to deal with GSA and the administrator in particular. There also is ongoing concern that Doan’s problems could bleed beyond her office to have a broader impact on GSA, which has been working to turn itself around.
Yet even amid that quagmire, the findings of the Office of Special Counsel on allegations that Doan violated the Hatch Act seemed to stand out. The OSC report states that Doan violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits using the business of government for political purposes, and the report all but accused the administrator of lying.
A case in point: Doan’s BlackBerry.
Doan has insisted that she didn’t remember the details of the meeting and that she didn’t believe it was inappropriate. She said she didn’t pay much attention during the briefing ... which included slides on vulnerable Democrats ... because she was using her BlackBerry. The special counsel sought to corroborate the BlackBerry distractions, yet when investigators reviewed Doan’s personal and government e-mail messages during the post-lunch meeting, there was no evidence that Doan would have been particularly distracted.
"The documentation establishes that Ms. Doan received nine e-mail messages to her private e-mail account on Jan. 26, 2007, with the latest one received at 1:08 p.m.," the report states. The meeting took place from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. "The documentation Ms. Doan provided concerning her private e-mail account did not establish that she sent, read, composed, deleted or moved any messages during the January meeting."
Doan’s response so far focused on the report being made public, not on the alleged Hatch Act violations. On May 24 Doan’s personal attorney, Michael Nardotti, sent a testy letter to Scott Bloch, the special counsel, asking for the report to be withdrawn because it was made public.
Nardotti expressed "utter outrage that the confidentiality of the report" made its way into the public sphere.
Doan has until June 1 to file her official response. We can only assume that Gonzales will not be reviewing that response.