Boehner Demands Pelosi Fire Beard

Posted July 30, 2008 at 10:35am

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to immediately fire Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard, citing his “complete disregard for the interests of American taxpayers” and “recklessly partisan manner.”

In a lengthy letter sent to Pelosi on Tuesday, Boehner requests Beard be removed from office and a replacement be selected through a bipartisan task force.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the Speaker will be sending a reply to Boehner shortly. A CAO spokesman deferred comment to the Speaker’s office.

“Clearly, we disagree with the concerns raised in Mr. Boehner’s letter and we await the Speaker’s response to the letter, given it was addressed to her,” spokesman Jeff Ventura said.

In the letter, Boehner accuses Beard of repeatedly exceeding his authority as CAO. He writes that Beard has improperly fired House employees; wasted taxpayer dollars on a communications staff, numerous trips and unnecessary projects; and acted in a partisan manner by appearing on the House floor and testifying before a joint Congressional committee.

“I believe that in addition to being responsible for the day-to-day administration of the House of Representatives, the CAO has a duty to American taxpayers to ensure that the money they provide to run this institution is spent in a fiscally responsible manner,” the letter reads. “However, time and again Mr. Beard has shown reckless disregard for this charge and instead has sought endless opportunities to throw money in a bottomless pit of wasteful projects.”

Beard’s tenure as CAO has been controversial since the start, as Pelosi hand-picked him for the post and not through a bipartisan task force the way Beard’s predecessor, Jay Eagen, had been selected.

In his more than 18 months as CAO, Beard has taken charge of a number of controversial projects, most notably Pelosi’s Green the Capitol Initiative. Republicans repeatedly have criticized the project, including the 2007 purchase of $90,000 worth of carbon offsets from the Chicago Climate Exchange and the $700,000 allocated to design a new, energy-efficient lighting system for the Capitol Dome.

“Mr. Beard claims that this effort will save money on lighting costs, but in reality it will take the House more than 50 years to generate enough energy savings to finally recoup the cost of Mr. Beard’s misguided design effort,” Boehner’s letter says.

Among other accusations, Boehner writes that Beard has used his position to advocate for Democratic policy initiatives, including extension of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Boehner also writes that Beard exceeded his authority by making significant changes to the House food services contract after it was approved by the House Administration panel.

“From the mismanagement of his office, to his penchant for partisan attacks and waste of taxpayer-funded resources, the case for dismissing Mr. Beard is clear,” Boehner writes. “I encourage you to do this immediately.”

One Democratic leadership aide called the letter “a politically motivated stunt,” adding that if Boehner had real concerns, he wouldn’t have waited until the end of the session to raise them.