(UnitedVoice.com) – Government officials are held to strict ethics codes. When one of them commits an act that violates those codes, they should be held accountable. Last fall, the Architect of the Capitol Inspector General’s Office released a report accusing a top official, James Brett Blanton, of abusing his power. The allegations against him were made worse after a congressional hearing. Now, President Joe Biden has fired him.
Blanton was the subject of an OIG investigation after a private citizen filed a complaint in March 2021 indicating they believed an architect of the Capitol vehicle was being misused. According to the report, a woman was spotted in a black Ford Explorer near Tyson’s Center, Virginia. The complainant noted a woman with brunette hair was driving the vehicle, with a passenger inside, at a higher rate of speed than the posted limit. She was allegedly doing an estimated 65 miles per hour (mph) in a parking garage with a limit of 30mph and is also accused of making obscene gestures.
The OIG reported the two persons in the vehicle were Blanton’s daughters. The same SUV was also mentioned in a 2020 complaint. Though it was assigned to the Office of the Chief Security Officer, Blanton was supposedly using it as a personal vehicle, disregarding his “vehicle-use authority.” He was accused of costing the federal government nearly $14,000 in questionable fees through the unauthorized use of the vehicles and adding wear and tear to them.
Blanton was also accused of impersonating a police officer even though he had no law enforcement authority. In the months leading up to the January 6 attack, he and his wife offered tours of the Capitol Building to “patriots.”
On Monday, February 13, Biden fired Blanton from his position as architect of the Capitol. The official had served in his position since 2019, when former President Donald Trump appointed him to the position. NPR reported an anonymous White House official said the administration did its “due diligence” and decided to terminate him. The architect of the Capitol is tasked with the operation and upkeep of the US Capitol Complex, which includes 570 acres of land and 18 million square feet of buildings.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had demanded Blanton be fired from his position.
Joe Biden should immediately FIRE AOC Blanton.
He has repeatedly abused taxpayer dollars.
Even House Democrats think it’s time for Blanton to go.
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) February 10, 2023
During congressional hearings in early February, Blanton admitted he didn’t show up at work on January 6, 2021. He claimed that he didn’t think it was necessary to go there when the Capitol was under attack because he was speaking to his workers using a radio installed in his vehicle and on the telephone. Republican and Democratic lawmakers slammed him for the decision. The New York Times reported Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) said his refusal to go to work that day was “mind-blowing.”
There are no indications of who is under consideration for his position. Chief of Operations Joseph DiPietro has stepped into the role temporarily.
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