Republican staff in both the House and the Senate are stunned by the lack of push back from GOP members against House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who last week launched an unprecedented fishing expedition to get at the files of an opposition party.
Waxman sent a letter to the Republican National Committee demanding copies of all the e-mails sent by Bush Administration officials “for partisan political purposes.”
“On a limited basis, we [the GOP] have tried to get Democrat emails, and stuff from the DNC, we were doing it during some of the Clinton scandal investigations,” says a current House Republican leadership staffer. “But what troubles me isn’t so much that Waxman is doing it, it’s that so many of our members aren’t trying to fight it. They are just lying down and letting the Democrats roll over them. It’s depressing.”
Waxman’s letter last week — actually sent while he was traveling with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Middle East — came on orders from Pelosi, House majority leader Steny Hoyer, and their staff, who saw an opportunity to get insights into the short and long-term political thinking of the opposition party, say Democrat House staff. “They see an opening to get at material that we normally don’t see,” says a Democrat leadership staffer. “If the Republicans had the same opportunity, they’d be jumping at it too.”
Waxman’s request comes on the heels of a hearing in his committee at which General Services Administration Administrator Lurita A. Doan testified that she and about 40 political appointees on her staff received a briefing from a White House political aide on Republican election plans for 2008.
Doan was defended by Republican members of the Oversight Committee, but GOP staffers on the House side say that they don’t believe their bosses are being aggressive enough in fighting what they view as an overreach by Waxman.
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