Friday, March 13, 2009

Obama official on leave after FBI raids; White House had "heads up"

An aide to President Barack Obama is on leave from his White House job after the FBI raided his old District of Columbia government office Thursday, arresting a city employee and a technology consultant on corruption charges, a White House official said.

The charges were lodged against the two men at a federal court hearing as the FBI finished searching the city's technology office, which was led until recently by Obama's new computer chief, Vivek Kundra.

Kundra is on leave from his White House job until further details of the case become known, according to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the official did not want to publicly discuss personnel matters.

Authorities say Acar and Bansal, along with others, defrauded the government through a variety of schemes, including billing the city for items that were never delivered and "ghost" contract employees who did not work. The scheme involved Acar approving falsified bills and splitting the money with vendors including Bansal, who submitted them, court documents alleged.

The White House says it got a heads up before FBI agents raided the former offices of a new Obama administration technology official.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the Department of Justice told the White House on Thursday morning of its planned raid at the offices of the District of Columbia's chief technology officer. Vivek Kundra recently left that post to take a job in the White House. Gibbs declined to say if administration officials knew about the ongoing investigation of the D.C. technology office when they hired Kundra.

Gibbs also declined to say if Kundra had enough time to remove any incriminating evidence, nor did he discuss if the ongoing investigation will be ignored by the press who don't want to create any distractions from the great job that the new administration is doing.  It wouldn't be appropriate to comment until we can figure out how Karl Rove managed to orchestrate this outrageous story.

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