Welcome Instapundit and Big Government readers!
Now that former National Endowment for the Arts communications director Yosi Sergant has resigned from the National Endowment for the Arts after leading that conference call, will his White House counterpart Buffy Wicks also step down? (Via Instapundit.) As Patrick Courrielche, who also participated, reminds us:
And from the transcript of the call it is obvious that she was aware of the goal of the call, which was to “support some of the President’s initiatives,” and cognizant of the audience’s affinity for the President, hence her thanking them for the two-plus years of support on his campaign.
In his piece, Courrielche explains why this resignation does not end the matter. To be sure, NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman faulted “the call for being ‘inappropriate and [saying] that Sergant had acted “unilaterally” in helping to organize it.”
Yeah, but Ms. Wicks, a White House official, was also in on the call. That may be unilateral from the point of view of the NEA, but not if we recall that he appears to be acting on behalf of the Administration. If it’s inappropriate for one government official to be in on the call, wouldn’t it then follow that it’s inappropriate for other federal officials to actively promote the political agenda of her colleague at the NEA.
Courrielche wants to know just how unilateral was the call, asking
. . . what specific aspect of his actions were unilateral and without approval? Definitely not the encouragement of the art community to tackle health care, energy and the environment, because that same request was part of a different but similar conference call invitation scheduled for August 27th. That invitation was sent out by Kalpen Modi (”Kal Penn”), Associate Director for the White House Office of Public Engagement, and was sent to a completely different arts group.
And then there’s the little matter of the “a group of 21 arts organizations” endorsing the President’s health reform plan only 48 hours after the call. Did Buffy do anything more to round up their support?
While the White House and the media may wish to move on, this matter is far from over. Asking if this represents an “an abuse of power,” the Anchoess contends that if former President George W. “Bush had done this, or if the Obama White House were Republican, we’d be watching a screamfest on all channels, calls for investigations, probably a call for a special prosecutor, and Olbermann’s head would be exploding.”
And she’s right. The story would be geting far more attention had a Bush Administration official attempted to enlist non-partisan groups, potential recipients of federal funds, in an effort to support (and promote) its legislative initiatives.
Kudos to ABCNews Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper who, seemingly alone among reporters working for MSM outlets, has stayed on top of this story (as he has been on many stories not entirely favorable to the Obama Administration and the narratives of his colleagues).