President Joe Biden has terminated the Trump-nominated Architect of the Capitol following reports that he misused government funds and abused his authority.
Brett Blanton’s actions were tensely debated during an oversight hearing last week. Gautam Raghavan, an assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel, informed Blanton of his termination in a letter dated Feb. 13.
On the same day, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy joined a bipartisan movement to remove Blanton and called for his resignation on Twitter.
“The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job,” McCarthy tweeted. “He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately.”
A report from the Office of the Inspector General concluded that Blanton committed “administrative, ethical and policy violations.” He allegedly misused government vehicles and impersonated law enforcement in addition to other infractions.
The OIG state:
Blanton misled and provided false information to investigators on multiple occasions. Blanton used taxpayer dollars to fund an additional personal vehicle for his family. The OIG is dedicated to promoting economy and efficiency and preventing and detecting fraud, waste and abuse within the AOC’s programs and operations. Blanton’s actions have violated every pillar the OIG operates under including theft, fraud, waste and abuse against not only the AOC but also the taxpayer.
House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, a Republican, called the report “highly concerning.”
“[Blanton’s] refusal to be transparent and truthful has made clear that he can no longer lead the organization and must resign immediately,” said Steil in a statement on Feb. 13, per The Hill. “I look forward to continuing to conduct robust oversight to ensure our government is accountable to the American people.”
Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Joe Morelle, a Democrat, had joined Steil’s calls for Blanton’s resignation.
“After being given the opportunity to respond to numerous allegations of legal, ethical, and administrative violations, and failing to directly respond, the President has removed Mr. Brett Blanton from his position – a decision I firmly stand behind,” he said in a statement. “President Biden did the right thing and heeded my call for action. I look forward to working with my colleagues to begin a search for a new Architect immediately.”
The Architect of the Capitol is in charge of the management and maintenance of the Capitol campus in Washington DC. This includes the “preservation and upkeep of more than 17.4 million square feet of both historic and modern facilities and 580 acres of grounds … to managing more than 2,000 employees,” per Politico.
Blanton was nominated by President Donald Trump in December of 2019 to serve a 10-year term. He previously worked as the senior engineering manager with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Blanton denied any wrongdoing.
“I wholeheartedly reject any assertion that I engaged in unethical behavior during my service to this country,” Blanton said during his testimony before the House Administration Committee.