The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Bye-Bye, Bardella

Posted on | March 1, 2011 | 1 Comment

For reasons previously explained, the press secretary for Rep. Darrell Issa was in an untenable position and has now been fired for it:

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) fired Kurt Bardella, one of Capitol Hill’s top press secretaries, after he provided e-mailed correspondence with other journalists to New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich.
Issa, in a statement Tuesday afternoon, said that the “information shared with Mark Leibovich appears to have been limited to Kurt’s own correspondence with reporters,” claiming that the internal workings of the committee — which include sensitive documents — had not been jeopardized.
“Though limited, these actions were highly inappropriate, a basic breach of trust with the reporters it was his job to assist, and inconsistent with established communications office policies,” Issa said in the statement released Tuesday afternoon. “As a consequence, his employment has been terminated.”

(Via Memeorandum.) One of the things that congressional staffers must always keep in mind is that they collect their salaries from the taxpayers, and that they cannot use their positions for personal or purely partisan purposes. If you want to go be a political operative, or if you want to hustle up a freelance income, no problem — but first, quit your job, because you can’t do that other stuff while you’re on the congressional payroll.

In Bardella’s case, it doesn’t appear that he was engaged in anything that compromised his boss, nor do we have any reason to believe that Bardella was hustling a buck or pushing a political agenda. However, any e-mails Bardella received as a result of his position on the congressional staff were official communications — the property of the congressman’s office, and therefore not Bardella’s to do with as he pleased.

By sharing those e-mails with Leibovich, Bardella was violating his official responsibilities. From a more pragmatic perspective, once it became known that Bardella and Leibovich were engaged in a project that excluded other journalists — and, indeed, a project that subjected those journalists’ e-mails to Leibovich’s scrutiny — it compromised Bardella’s standing as an honest broker of information.

Note to my congressional sources: You need never fear exposure for your secret leaks to me. I’m not sure how Politico got wind of Leibovich’s dealings with Bardella, but I’ll carry your secrets to my grave.


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