Bush political office overstepped limits, investigators say

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The Bush administration used a White House political office as a "boiler room" to support Republican congressional candidates in violation of federal law, a report released Monday by an independent government watchdog agency concludes.

The findings of the report by the Office of Special Counsel echo those of a 2008 House Oversight Committee investigation, which concluded that the activities of the Office of Political Affairs during the administration of President George W. Bush represented a "gross abuse of the public trust."

The Office of Special Counsel report addresses alleged violations of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law meant to prevent using federal employees and resources in political activities. It forbids most federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty and forbids the use of federal funds altogether.

The White House political unit, or OPA, has typically been used in an advisory role to help keep the president, appointees and others briefed on political matters, according to the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal agency responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act.

But the agency's investigators found that the Bush-era political affairs office went well beyond that role. Its functions were so intertwined with those of the GOP that at one point employees of the Republican National Committee were working out of OPA offices....

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