Washington Prowler

Obama Security Breech

The evolving story of Vivek Kundra. Also: UPDATE: Retraction on Jindal.

By 3.16.09

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WHO IS VIVEK KUNDRA?
The Obama Administration is worried that yet another senior appointee has run into potential ethics issues one week into his new job.

According to one White House source, the Obama Administration asked its newly appointed chief technology officer to take a leave until the Department of Justice could provide the administration with additional information surrounding an FBI raid at the officer's former workplace, the Washington, D.C. Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

CTO Vivek Kundra had resigned from his D.C. post earlier this month to take the White House job; last Thursday the FBI raided the D.C. office, arresting Yusuf Acar, the acting chief security officer of the D.C. Office of the CTO, who was later charged with bribery of a public official, money laundering, wire fraud and conflict of interest. The FBI reported finding $70,000 in Acar's Northwest D.C. home.

When the White House was given head's up about the raid, the Justice Department informed the White House that Kundra was not a target of the investigation, but there are concerns at 1600 Pennsylvania that as more people are swept up in the burgeoning scandal, their appointee may get caught.

Also arrested, and complicating the White House's issues with Kundra, was Sushil Bansal, CEO of Advanced Integrated Technologies Corporation (AITC), who also faces bribery related charges.

Bansal is not a U.S. citizen, and is working here on a visa provided to foreign workers in "specialty" professions. Bansal's company has done work for the D.C. government since 2004, prior to Kundra's taking over the technology office. But when Kundra did take over the office, AITC's business more than doubled.

"What concerns us and the White House Counsel's office is that Kundra and Bansal seem to have a very tight relationship that was not discussed during the vetting process," says the White House source. The White House has determined that Kundra and Bansal also did business prior to Kundra's taking the D.C. job. When Kundra worked for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), it was as a consultant for a project at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Bansal's firm provided support to SAIC's contract work at HHS.

"We're still sorting things out," says the White House source. "But there appears to be a lot more to be cleared up than we originally thought."

RETRACTION
Over the weekend, The Prowler was contacted by a longstanding source on Capitol Hill, who has worked in House Republican leadership for several years. He detailed a story of a fundraiser that he claimed was held by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, hosted by Clark Country, Washington, Republican officials in Bellevue, Washington on March 5th, at the expense of Rep. Dave Reichert, who is expecting a tough re-election fight in 2010, and who had previously sought Jindal’s appearance for a fundraiser. 

Our Capitol Hill source provided a local Washington State contact, who claimed that the event had taken place, going so far as to detail dollar amounts raised, and provided calendar entries and schedules to confirm that appeared to confirm the event. We have since learned that the information provided was false, and that the Clark County event for Jindal was canceled. 

We apologize to Governor Jindal and his supporters for disseminating inaccurate information.

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