Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NEA--The Cover-Up

Several posts starting in August detailed the Obama Administration's attempt to hijack the National Endowment for the Arts for political purposes. In what I thought the final chapter, the NEA admitted error and fired its communications director, Yosi Sergant--but NEA's chairman claimed Sergant had acted without authority or approval. In other words, they fingered Sergant as a rogue staffer. Even if accurate, that didn't explain the role of White House staffers participating in the process.

Never mind--it's not true anyway. The conservative foundation Judicial Watch used the Freedom of Information Act to get NEA emails, including some between Sergant and White House and The Corporation for National and Community Service staffers. These documents make clear that the notion of soliciting artists to proselytize the President's position's wasn't Sergant's but originated with an unnamed Obama campaign activist. Thereafter, there were numerous emails between Sergant and an employee of the federal program United We Serve where the latter appears to be organizing the campaign. Some of those emails were copied to a second NEA employee, Elizabeth Stark. And, following that, Sergant himself sent a conference call invitation saying:
A call has come in to our generation. A call from the top. A call from a house that is White. A call that we must answer. And to answer it, we need you. . .

United We Serve is President Obama's call to service challenging all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful community service. With the knowledge that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things when given the proper tools, President Obama is asking us to come together to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda -- health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.

Now is the time for us to answer this call. It is time for us as a group of artists, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, tastemakers, leaders or just plain, cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!
In sum, the documents demonstrate that the idea originated not with Sergant but with an outside Obama partisan; that White House and other Federal employees were intimately involved; that others in the NEA knew of the plan; and that Sergant himself said the idea came from the White House. This is no more a rouge staffer than the Cuban burglars were the brains behind the Watergate break-in.

Conclusion: Yosi Sergant was the fall-guy for an extensive effort to twist tax-supported arts funding to advance Obama's political agenda. All Federal employees named in the documents should be the subject of an immediate investigation, whose outcome should be disclosed publicly. After all, didn't the President promise:
an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Or, like NEA's last fable, is that statement also "inoperative"?

1 comment:

bobn said...

a rouge staffer

It's the Red Menace all over again!