White House amends rules after “inappropriate” NEA conference call

posted at 3:36 pm on September 22, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When the story of the conference call conducted by the National Endowment of the Arts first broke, the White House attempted to ignore it.  After Big Hollywood published the audio of White House officials presenting “specific asks” for grant recipients to plug Barack Obama’s domestic agenda, the media began pushing for more answers.  Jake Tapper reports today that the story has forced the Obama administration to do the obligatory issuance of “new guidelines” to avoid a repeat:

An August 10, 2009 National Endowment for the Arts conference call in which artists were asked to help support President Obama’s agenda — a call that at least one good government group called “inappropriate” — has prompted the White House to issue new guidelines to prevent such a call from ever happening again.

“The point of the call was to encourage voluntary participation in a national service initiative by the arts community,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told ABC News. “To the extent there was any misunderstanding about what the NEA may do to support the national service initiative, we will correct it.   We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants.  We are fully committed to the NEA’s historic mission, and we will take all steps necessary to ensure that there is no further cause for questions or concerns about that commitment.”  …

After listening to the transcript and the audio posted at the conservative website BigHollywood.Breitbart.com — secretly recorded by Los Angeles filmmaker Patrick Couriellech — Melanie Sloan, executive director of the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told ABC News that the call was “disturbing.”

“Government agencies are not supposed to be engaged in political activities,” Sloan said. “Here, because they didn’t veer off into ‘This is about the election,’ where you’d get into violations of the Hatch Act, it’s not illegal. But it doesn’t look good — it looks terrible. It’s inappropriate.”

The White House continues to insist that the allegations of politicization are “false and misleading,” but the call clearly attempted to push grant recipients into hitting the favorite themes of the Obama administration’s domestic agenda.  Anyone who listened to that call knew exactly what Sergant and Buffy Wicks wanted from the artist community — propaganda.  The demand for “specific asks” made it sound as though grant funding would depend or at least get influenced by that participation.

Congress should investigate this, although with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge, they certainly won’t.  It will be up to Republicans to inform voters of this “disturbing” attempt to create a Ministry of Propaganda — and to make the argument for abolishing the NEA once and for all.  As long as government acts as a patron, the impulse to do what the Obama administration attempted here will be too strong for some to resist.


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and to make the argument for abolishing the NEA once and for all. As long as government acts as a patron, the impulse to do what the Obama administration attempted here will be too strong for some to resist.

I was gonna comment but it’s seems redundant.

Rocks on September 22, 2009 at 3:39 PM

All I can see lately is his back side!

Is he running away?

bluegrass on September 22, 2009 at 3:39 PM

“Inappropriate” seems to describe a lot of things about this administration.

Fighton03 on September 22, 2009 at 3:40 PM

The rules (laws?) don’t need amending, they need to be obeyed, and when broken, the malfeasor needs to be punished.

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:41 PM

“To the extent there was any misunderstanding about what the NEA may do to support the national service initiative, we will correct lie about it. We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants.

Fixed.

Daggett on September 22, 2009 at 3:41 PM

As the law doesn’t apply these days , it has to be made into an election feature.

the_nile on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Rocks on September 22, 2009 at 3:39 PM

If artists naturally serve their patron, what about, oh, I dunno, educators?

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

winner: i have a royal flush.

loser: no, i win cuz i have a single spade. i have the right to change the rules as we go cuz they are my playing cards.

see? easy…

moonbatkiller on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Sickening. I thought we already had a ministry of propaganda.

Most have three letters. CBS, ABC, NYT, LAT and the shameful NBC.

Unless these girls are shot and scarred and He needs new walkers.

IlikedAUH2O on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Time to whip out the strongly worded memo template.

txag92 on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

“The demand for “specific asks” made it sound as though grant funding would depend or at least get influenced by that participation.”

Just wait until you have to go to the doctor…

Seven Percent Solution on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

It still kills me that with all of the people out of work in this country, Bill Burton has a job.

myrenovations on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

New guidelines: Follow the law. (What? That’s the old guidelines?)

Spirit of 1776 on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

story has forced the Obama administration to do the obligatory issuance of “new guidelines

backpedaling ONLY ’cause they got caught…

they will find another way around these new guidelines, rest assure

cmsinaz on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

The NEA and the White House have also hired ad agency public relations firm Winner and Associates, the Democratic contributers and Axelrod colleagues from Chicago who produced a series of Sarah Palin smear videos for Youtube as uncovered by My Pet Jawa.

alliebobbitt on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Wanna know how to clean government permanently? And make it run without scandal?

Put the minority party in charge of all investigative panels and the DoJ.

lorien1973 on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Any other president who was so blatantly self-aggrandizing as to openly politicize the NEA or any other taxpayer-funded entity this way would already have been met with impeachment inquiries or calls for his resignation.

It’s time for Osama Obama to pay the price for his blatant disregard for the law and for basic decency.

MrScribbler on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

1. All meetings involving potential violation of those stupid US laws will be conducted under the “Cone of Silence” and any recordings of such discussion will be made on one of those “this tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds” …uh…things.

BobMbx on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Amends rules???

No investigation?

This White House is criminal.

darwin on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

I see this as a distraction from ACORN. He comes clean on the small potatoes and doesn’t know much about the huge stinking pile with his name on it.

doctormom on September 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

At the time, Axelrod said the Obama campaign had nothing to do with the ads, like that 1984 anti-Hillary ad, and they hadn’t spoken to Winner in ten years. It sure is nice to see they’ve rekindled their friendship.

alliebobbitt on September 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

If artists naturally serve their patron, what about, oh, I dunno, educators?

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:42 PM

We have enough educators with the Dept of Ed. thanks.

Rocks on September 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

they will find another way around these new guidelines, rest assure
cmsinaz on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

If so, and they get caught, we’re gonna do some prettty stern amending of those new rules, buster.

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:45 PM

When someone can say to you, “Hey, draw us a pretty picture that’ll make people like Obama’s nationalization of health care,” and you say “OK, cool,” you don’t get to call yourself an artist. You are, at that point, something else entire, and it doesn’t sound as nice as “artist.”

Rational Thought on September 22, 2009 at 3:45 PM

It’s time for Osama Obama to pay the price for his blatant disregard for the law and for basic decency.

MrScribbler on September 22, 2009 at 3:43 PM

it’ll never happen with this congress or MSM…

cmsinaz on September 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM

I miss Nixon.

Vashta.Nerada on September 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM

I would love to see the propaganda art put out by NEA grant recipients. There’s a blog right there.

alliebobbitt on September 22, 2009 at 3:47 PM

After listening to the transcript and the audio posted at the conservative website BigHollywood.Breitbart.com — secretly recorded by Los Angeles filmmaker Patrick Couriellech — Melanie Sloan, executive director of the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told ABC News that the call was “disturbing.”

racist

david kumbera on September 22, 2009 at 3:47 PM

They will learn from the master at how to better hide their subversive activities. ACORN, SEIU, APOLLO Alliance come to mind.

d1carter on September 22, 2009 at 3:47 PM

We have enough educators with the Dept of Ed. thanks.
Rocks on September 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

That’s what I’m sayin. If artists are meritricious, is it just because they’re artists, or does that apply to anyone receiving hisn livelihood from Uncle Sam, like the NEA members churning out little statists down at PS 29?

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM

This admin will go down as the most corrupt in history, save for Nixon’s.

And they may well pass Tricky Dick’s by the time they are done.

Amazing.

RedNewEnglander on September 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM

something else entire, and it doesn’t sound as nice as “artist.”
Rational Thought on September 22, 2009 at 3:45 PM

“Hey sailor, lookin for a date?”

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Yay, the adults are in charge!

/getabrain.

rbj on September 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Barack Obama: The Inappropriate President.

kingsjester on September 22, 2009 at 3:49 PM

2. No person in this Administration shall break any law, unless I, Obama, sign a waiver.

BobMbx on September 22, 2009 at 3:50 PM

And he’s going to ensure that illegals don’t get OboobaCare by making them citizens. Problem solved, promise kept!

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Congress should investigate this, although with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge, they certainly won’t.

This is on their list right after making sweet love together in front of the C-SPAN camera.

Because that will be the end of the world as we know it and I won’t feel fine.

NoDonkey on September 22, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Why do they need new guidelines? There’s nothing wrong with the guidelines. It’s like our immigration laws; they’re fine, just not enforced.

Ronnie on September 22, 2009 at 3:52 PM

Akzed on September 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM

The Dept of Ed is concerned with education. Grants there go to educators. So the money goes to teach art, not produce it, supposedly. I get where you are going here but one Dept at a time okay? Rome was unbuilt in a day.

Rocks on September 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM

“New guidelines?” Is this the latest excuse for criminal behavior? Pathetic.

LibTired on September 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Guidelines are useless. There needs to be a law. Guidelines are unenforceable.

Guardian on September 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM

Constitutional issues of magnitude that separate the branches of our government from “owning” the free press aside for a moment, this is a time of overwhelming economic stress and duress. Obama campaigned to cut our taxes, AND to cut tax subsidies for nonessential government institutions. The NEA needs to exist without tax funds, or cease to exist. Let them exist on the interest earned from previous tax funds that they’d diverted from Congressional spending, and cultivate their private donors to remain an entity.

maverick muse on September 22, 2009 at 3:53 PM

I really hope Breitbart has more stuff on this or this whole episode of deceit, propoganda, and corruption just went….

FIZZLE

That would be such a shame after all that hard work.

LordMaximus on September 22, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia…

Khun Joe on September 22, 2009 at 3:56 PM

So- they amended the rules to make these calls legal?

Is that it?

drjohn on September 22, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Time for a Guideline Czar.

LibTired on September 22, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Democrats have finessed corruption into an art form anyways. So it’s no surprise that they honestly do abide by the “do as I say, not as I do” adage. They’ve dominated the political landscape for over 80 years and have manipulated and corrupted the system so badly that it’s a given where democrats are involved. They need to be defeated and voted out of power before we can make any substantial progress and eliminate a lot of the corruption and greed we now see in our government.

mozalf on September 22, 2009 at 3:58 PM

I miss Nixon.

Vashta.Nerada on September 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM

You Miss Nixon?

The media does too, see my post under Democratic Civility here.

IlikedAUH2O on September 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Retreat only when caught. Apologize only for misunderstandings, never for wrongdoing. Allow your believers to continue to believe. Rinse and repeat. We are loosing.

AnotherOpinion on September 22, 2009 at 4:01 PM

“amend the rules” Euphemism for “lets try to find a way circumvent any rule, code of ethics, or honor code by any means necessary.” I work in theatre. I am working at a theatre that may be getting some of Uncle Barack’s money. They most likely have received grants from the NEA for a new play they are working on. I don’t like the idea of taking money from the government and I spoke my mind months ago on Big Hollywood: you take money from the government, the government gets to tell you what to do and say with that money…Should NEA be disbanded? Probably. I hate to say that because I think arts education is important in school but then what happened to the days where the parents were actually financially responsible for their children’s education? Better yet: what happened to children actually being responsible for finding jobs to support their interests? I wanted to take riding lessons as a kid. My folks told me that if I wanted them I was going to have to find the resources. I cleaned stalls in exchange for the lessons. I still can’t ride worth beans but I can make a stall sparkle. But that may be too much to ask of a generation that has had everything handed to them and think they are helpless. The arts are RIFE with people with entitlement minds and open palms. If the funds can be directed to education and education ONLY, with new administrators, then keep it. Otherwise, it was a beautiful idea: cut it!

Driefromseattle on September 22, 2009 at 4:01 PM

The only “rule” that needs to be amended is the Valarie Jarrett position- she’s the common denominator in this, ACORN, Van Jones…

BKeyser on September 22, 2009 at 4:02 PM

You Miss Nixon?

The media does too, see my post under Democratic Civility here.

IlikedAUH2O on September 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I miss him because corruption was more simple then, only on one level, not every single level.

Vashta.Nerada on September 22, 2009 at 4:04 PM

Retreat only when caught. Apologize only for misunderstandings, never for wrongdoing. Allow your believers to continue to believe. Rinse and repeat. We are loosing.

AnotherOpinion on September 22, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Better keep on trying , name and shame, Van Jones went down.

the_nile on September 22, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Valarie Jarrett

Criminal

SouthernGent on September 22, 2009 at 4:05 PM

Here’s an oldie but goodie – “Mistakes were made”.

That was trotted out everytime the Clinton Administration was found breaking the law.

Then, a few weeks later, they’d say the whole story was “old news”.

And that would be it.

Why reinvent the wheel?

NoDonkey on September 22, 2009 at 4:07 PM

I’m sorry but “We’re sorry and it won’t happen again.” just doesn’t cut the mustard. At minimum, Buffy’s head should roll. But hey, Dems don’t play dat.

curved space on September 22, 2009 at 4:09 PM

We may as well change all felony language in our laws to “inappropriate”. Does that mean that Bernie Madoff inappropriately disbursed investor funds?

orlandocajun on September 22, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Michelle should do an online who’s who in the culture of corruption, pictures and links and crimes..

the_nile on September 22, 2009 at 4:12 PM

By amend the rules they mean to conceal such events in the future through official cover and denial at the highest levels.

What a trash administration this is, apparently staffed by the dumbest, most inept clowns this nation could find.

Bishop on September 22, 2009 at 4:12 PM

This guy is giving a Republican majority in the house, if they win it in 2010, so much ammunition to cause him so much grief he will probably quit the office.

Zelsdorf Ragshaft on September 22, 2009 at 4:13 PM

I am beginning to see a pattern with the Emperor Obe. When faced with a obstacle (Van Jones, ACORN) a decision is made right away as to how much political capital to expend on that asset. In the case of Van Jones, a decision was made at once to throw him overboard VERY early. The Emperor made some chilly defensive comments about Van Jones and a few days later, “accepted” his resignation.

ACORN is a totally different strategy. He is going to go to the wall for it, because it is the Dem life blood, money, recruits, votes. We are going to see the full Monty over ACORN and it will be ugly.

GunRunner on September 22, 2009 at 4:17 PM

We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood…

There it is again. We’re really sorry that some of you are too stupid to understand…

Am I becoming over-sensitized to the ongoing displays of liberals’ contempt for the intelligence of the citizenry that underlies everything they plan “for our own good,” or is it that the underlying contempt, modeled right from the top, is becoming just that much more obvious?

Drained Brain on September 22, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Michelle cleaning Beckel’s clock on Hannity.

TXUS on September 22, 2009 at 4:18 PM

He’s just trying to sweep it under the rug.

We’ll forget about it in a day or two.

The most corrupt President ever: Obama

TriciaNC on September 22, 2009 at 4:19 PM

“To the extent there was any misunderstanding about what the NEA may do to support the national service initiative, we will correct it. We regret any comments on the call that may have been misunderstood or troubled other participants.

Being interpreted is to say: we regret being caught and that the public is now aware of it. This administration will make TeaPot Dome look like a Sunday School class.

wepeople on September 22, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Like delinquent teenagers running on hormones, this group in our current regime have never been told No. Not by their parents, schools, jobs, and are now running a country like it’s Friday night at the neighborhood hangout. If the cops show-up, point to someone else, if they get called out by the other gang act like someone else did it, then everyone run for cover and regroup. Our fearless leader pointing fingers and crinkling up the forhead to show his disdain for anyone else’s ideas are running a bit lame as well.

24K lady on September 22, 2009 at 4:28 PM

has prompted the White House to issue new guidelines to prevent such a call from ever happening being discovered again.

There now, that’s more like it.

rihar on September 22, 2009 at 4:31 PM

Well, it’s more of a guideline than a rule.

rjoco1 on September 22, 2009 at 4:31 PM

They are sorry.(sorry that they got caught)

Johan Klaus on September 22, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Michelle cleaning Beckel’s clock on Hannity.

TXUS on September 22, 2009 at 4:18 PM

Bechel thinks that he is winning because he is louder.

Johan Klaus on September 22, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Obama’s running out of room under the bus.

Time for an Upgrade

mrt721 on September 22, 2009 at 4:44 PM

This administration has already done more deficient spending than every administration before them. Now they are trying to commit more crimes, than every administration before them.

darktood on September 22, 2009 at 5:02 PM

They can’t amend these rules. They are statutory, in the Anti-Lobbying Act.

——-

18 U.S. Code § 1913 (Lobbying with Appropriated Moneys) is a criminal statute applicable to all Federal executive branch employees. It prohibits the use of appropriated funds (including the use of official employee time and Government resources) for activities that are intended or designed (directly or indirectly) to influence in any manner a member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government (Federal, state or local) to favor or oppose any legislation, law or appropriation. Here is the full text of the statute:

18 U.S. Code § 1913 – Lobbying with Appropriated Moneys
No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation, whether before or after the introduction of any bill, measure, or resolution proposing such legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation; but this shall not prevent officers or employees of the United States or of its departments or agencies from communicating to any such Member or official, at his request, or to Congress or such official, through the proper official channels, requests for any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriations which they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business, or from making any communication whose prohibition by this section might, in the opinion of the Attorney General, violate the Constitution or interfere with the conduct of foreign policy, counter-intelligence, intelligence, or national security activities.

rockmom on September 22, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Gosh, don’t you guys know that elections have consequences? Gawsh!

Special K on September 22, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Michelle cleaning Beckel’s clock on Hannity.

TXUS on September 22, 2009 at 4:18 PM

That’s an easy job.

Schadenfreude on September 22, 2009 at 5:08 PM

Caption for Obama/Yori photo:

“Oh Yori…your mustache tickles my ear. For a second I thought you were Michelle.

portlandon on September 22, 2009 at 5:22 PM

Please pardon the government paid employees while “WE LEARN THIS NEW LANGUAGE”.

TRANSLATION: We learn how to push the Boss’s agenda without violating the law – just in case someone has a tape recorder or video camera on.

GarandFan on September 22, 2009 at 5:31 PM

…not that we did something wrong or anything!

evergreen on September 22, 2009 at 6:22 PM

Well DUH.

Sure seems that eliminating the funding of NEA (along with PBS and NPR) would be a great place to start to balance the budget.

gonegaltinstl on September 22, 2009 at 6:22 PM

I don’t know if anybody else has posted on this, but Beck just showed a direct link between the White House and this NEA conference call. Some woman named “Buffy” spoke on the call, who works directly for Valerie Jarret, who works for Obama.

This needs a special prosecutor! NOW!

Star20 on September 22, 2009 at 6:33 PM

Caught in the act they change the rules…nothing new.

jerrytbg on September 22, 2009 at 9:39 PM

The two of them exchanging sweet nothing in each other’s ears was inappropriate. The conference call by Buffy from the White House was ILLEGAL.

bayview on September 22, 2009 at 10:31 PM

oops…they‘ll change the rules

jerrytbg on September 22, 2009 at 11:10 PM

How much longer before the MSM and “Main Street” (The person who used that phrase first should be drawn and quartered) see the pattern of criminality? Certainly the ACORN scandal must have alerted them. How about Geithner? The Weather Underground?

allstonian on September 23, 2009 at 1:12 PM