The Bush administration was repeatedly accused of “politicizing” federal agencies. So it’s interesting to note a press release by the Office of Special Counsel, the independent agency that investigates prohibited political activity by federal employees. The press release announces the settlement of a discrimination complaint against the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) filed by a job applicant for the general-counsel position, a career civil-service job.
The EAC is a relatively new federal agency created by Congress in 2002. It was tasked with (1) distributing grant funding under the Help America Vote Act to improve state election administration, and (2) serving as a clearinghouse for recommendations on the “best practices” for states to follow. It is governed by four commissioners, two Republicans and two Democrats, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
In late 2008, the four commissioners approved the applicant’s selection. However, shortly after that, two of the commissioners refused to approve his appointment. Why? Because they found out he was a Republican. The press release doesn’t identify the commissioners, but I know from sources that they were the two Democratic commissioners, Gracia Hillman and Rosemary Rodriguez. Rodriguez resigned in February, and her position remains vacant. Unfortunately, Hillman is still at the commission and is apparently trying to get elected chairman.
The settlement provides the applicant with a “substantial monetary settlement.” In other words, the American taxpayer is going to have to pay for Hillman’s discriminatory conduct and illegal hiring practices. She ought to resign for her behavior; she most certainly should not be elected chair of a commission that is supposed to be “nonpartisan” in its election work.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Hillman to do the right thing — or for the mainstream media to actually cover this story.