President Joe Biden Fires Architect of the Capitol J. Brett Blanton Following Outrage
President Joe Biden has fired the Architect of the Capitol, J. Brett Blanton, following outrage over an inspector general report that found Blanton misused a government vehicle and allegedly impersonated a law enforcement officer. The president's decision was welcomed by House Administration Ranking Member Joe Morelle (D-NY), who had previously called for Blanton’s ouster. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) had also joined the list of lawmakers asking for his resignation.
Blanton was nominated by former President Donald Trump to a 10-year term as Architect of the Capitol and was confirmed by the Senate in December 2019. In October, an Inspector General's report concluded that Blanton and his family had made improper use of vehicles from the Architect of the Capitol, intended to be used for commuting to work, for personal purposes, leading to nearly $14,000 worth of unnecessary expenses. In addition, Blanton had been misidentified as an off-duty police officer during an event in which he pursued a hit-and-run that occurred near his home.
At a hearing before the House Administration Committee last week, Blanton further angered lawmakers by evading questions and admitting that he failed to respond to the Capitol in person on Jan. 6, 2021, when the campus he’s sworn to protect was under siege. Blanton stated that he employed his AOC vehicle as a “mobile command center.” instead. The report from the Office of the Inspector General found that Blanton had “administrative, ethical and policy violations” as well as “evidence of criminal violations” throughout the investigation.
As architect of the Capitol, Blanton was the top official tasked with overseeing the Capitol complex’s facilities, operations, historical artifacts and grounds. The 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act offers guidelines on when and how a president can appoint “acting” individuals to temporarily fill Presidential Appointments with Senate confirmation (PAS) positions. The law typically states that those appointed to an acting role can only serve for a maximum of 210 days, beginning from the time the position becomes vacant.
The Biden administration's decision to fire Blanton was also motivated by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found that three Biden administration officials have exceeded the amount of time they can use the “acting” title and are therefore serving in their positions illegally. The consequences for violating this law are limited.
0. “Biden ousts Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton amid misconduct allegations” Washington Examiner, 13 Feb. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/biden-ousts-architect-capitol
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