Pubdate: Thu, 23 Oct 2008
Source: Reno News & Review (NV)
Copyright: 2008 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Dennis Myers
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


A congressional report has faulted the Bush administration's use of 
tax dollars to pay for political campaigning in Nevada and other states.

At issue is White House drug "czar" John Walters and his campaign 
trips to Nevada, Utah and Missouri to campaign against local ballot 
measures in 2006.

The report by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government 
Reform found that White House aide Karl Rove's office requested 
special help for Republican congressional candidates who were in 
election trouble in the months before the 2006 elections, and Walters 
leaped at the chance to campaign, being called a "superstar" by a 
Rove aide. Walters called news conferences in the states at which he 
doled out half-million-dollar grants with the congressmembers--two 
U.S. House members and a senator--at his side, the grants serving as 
the pretext for his campaigning.

Walters' uses of tax funds in Nevada were previously criticized not 
just in 2006 but in earlier campaigns. Walters refused a demand from 
Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller that he file the required 
campaign disclosure forms for his political trips in 2002. Nevada 
Attorney General Brian Sandoval criticized Walters' behavior, but no 
accounting of taxpayer dollars expended in Nevada by Walters was ever 
made. The White House also ignored an order for an explanation from 
the Nevada Supreme Court, and the court ultimately declined to act.

Last week, the House report called the White House conduct "a gross 
abuse of the public trust."

The report was issued by the committee majority, but in the earlier 
Nevada case, Heller and Sandoval are both Republicans. George Bush's 
spokesperson called the report "an attempt to score political points."

In a similar and local vein, the Washoe Regional Transportation 
Commission has sent out a second political mailing to sell the voters 
on a ballot initiative. Where the previous mailing, costing an 
estimated $20,000 in tax funds, attempted to sell the public on two 
tax hike initiatives, the new mailing promotes only one, RTC 5, which 
would allow subsequent tax increases without a public vote. The RTC 
says these mailings are solely designed to inform the public, but 
they are not sent to all households, only to those with registered voters.
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