President Joe Biden has fired Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton, the Western Journal reported. Blanton was appointed by former President Donald Trump but has been accused of several infractions by both parties after a recent report.
The job of the Capitol architect is to manage the massive landmark and its surrounding grounds. However, a report from the Office of the Inspector General uncovered several troubling things about Blanton that have led to calls for President Joe Biden to remove him.
"The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted Monday. "He should resign, or President Biden should remove him immediately," the California Republican added.
The report, released on October 2022, found that Blanton "abused his authority, misused government property, and wasted taxpayer money, among other substantiated violations." It said he committed "administrative, ethical and policy violations," including misuse of a government-issued vehicle and falsely giving the impression that he was a member of law enforcement.
The vehicle was driven for some 30,000 miles despite limitations to use for official work only. Blanton reportedly allowed the vehicle to be operated by his adult daughter and his wife against regulations while the American taxpayers footed the bill.
The inspector general was first alerted to these problems through a complaint on a hotline on March 7, 2021. The complaint said that the black SUV's driver was "extremely reckless in the parking garage and swerving out of the garage at a high rate of speed, estimated to be about 65 miles per hour in a 30-mph zone."
The driver turned out to be Blanton's daughter, who also "made obscene gestures toward" the complainant "while at the stop sign outside the parking garage." This was all while the government was footing the bill for her travels.
There were some $13,926.56 in costs attributed to the Ford Explorer. Meanwhile, the inspector general's report said Blanton's adult child called it "free gas" for her.
Another incident involving the official vehicle occurred in 2020 when Blanton allegedly chased down a vehicle "involved in a hit-and-run incident that took place in front of his residence" using the SUV. Based on that behavior, Blanton has also been accused of giving the impression that he was in law enforcement.
During the pandemic, Blanton reportedly gave tours of the U.S. Capitol despite the official closure of the building to the public. The inspector general found that Blanton's wife made "multiple social media posts" about the tours.
"All PATRIOTS welcome," one of her posts proclaimed. The report noted that there was no official violation, but that these tours were not a good look.
"Offering private tours of the U.S. Capitol creates the appearance of impropriety and using a public position for private gain, which is a violation of AOC policy," the report said. After all this, House Administration Committee Chairman Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) called for Blanton's resignation.
"The Inspector General’s report was highly concerning," Steil said. He added that the Architect of the Capitol's "refusal to be transparent and truthful has made clear that he can no longer lead the organization and must resign immediately."
Regardless of who has appointed them, government officials who misuse their privileges must be removed from their positions. However, there surely are many more in the D.C. swamp doing what Blanton did without facing consequences.