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Rep. Seeks Salvation Army Investigation

Vowing to not allow the issue to be swept under the rug, Rep. Jerrold Nadler ( D-NY ) held a meeting with David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, July 20 to discuss an investigation by the General Accounting Office into secret meetings the White House held with the Salvation Army regarding a change in the law that would allow religious charities to discriminate in hiring for their secular activities.

Walker agreed to have the staff at the General Accounting Office...the chief investigative arm of Congress...work with Nadler to review the facts, as known so far, and the applicable law, relating to the meetings and the apparent quid pro quo between top White House officials and the Salvation Army.

In the past two weeks, Nadler and Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee, have been stonewalled by the White House in their attempts to obtain information about the meetings, according to Nadler's office. They contacted the GAO in order to use that agency's statutory authority to investigate wrongdoing by the executive branch.

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"It is clear that the White House wishes that this whole issue would just be forgotten, after being forced to admit more and more each day after initial denials" said Nadler. "But what is reported to have happened in those meetings...the brokering of our nation's civil-rights laws in a backroom...is far too important to let go with still so many unresolved questions."

Nadler and Conyers began their inquiry following reports in the Washington Post that the White House negotiated a quid pro quo with the Salvation Army to gain the active endorsement of the group for the White House's proposed faith-based initiative. According to an internal Salvation Army memo, the White House promised to institute a change in law allowing for the discrimination of gays and lesbians in hiring...even if it was in direct violation of anti-discrimination laws in 12 states and the District of Columbia and more than 100 localities. White House accounts of the meetings changed daily, as more was uncovered about them, by the Washington Post. Eventually, the White House declined to pursue the regulatory change...which proved unnecessary because a change to the same effect was also included in HR 7, the legislative version of the faith-based initiative.

"The gay and lesbian community has every right to know all the details of these meetings in the Bush White House, and any other meetings where the stripping away of their civil rights was on the agenda," said Nadler.

"And the American people have every right to know if the White House has secret working groups aimed at trading away our rights, which possibly would be in violation of the law."

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