America is a land of hope, where you can steal, plead guilty, have your office raided by the FBI, and still get a job in the White House. Like Vivek Kundra, Obama's CIO!
Kundra has returned to the White House. He'd been placed on a five-day leave after a bribery scandal unfolded in D.C.'s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, which Kundra ran before joining the federal government.
Valleywag reported this morning that Kundra had pleaded guilty to a theft charge. The irony: Kundra has been a champion of transparent government and open, Internet-accessible records. But in pleading guilty and agreeing to a legal maneuver probation before judgment, he attempted to avoid having a conviction on his record. The case nevertheless remained in Maryland state records, where anyone with a Web browser could find it.
The reinstatement apparently came after a call by Kundra's former employer and career patron, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, whom Kundra advised on technology before he became D.C.'s chief technology officer. The New York Times describes Kaine's intervention:
The governor called the White House and pleaded Mr. Kundra's case, according to the person familiar with the matter although a spokesman for Mr. Kaine said he was unaware of any contact. It is not clear who he spoke with. But the person familiar with the situation said that Mr. Kaine said that since Mr. Kundra was not under investigation, he should be reinstated. Otherwise, he said, Mr. Kundra's reputation would be ruined and the administration would miss out on having someone with valuable skills help with its important task of making the government more transparent.
The person familiar with the situation also said that Mr. Kundra had told him that he had disclosed the youthful arrest, made in 1996 when Mr. Kundra was 21, to the White House and to all of his previous employers.
Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman, said tonight: "Twenty years ago, Vivek committed a youthful indiscretion. He performed community service and we are satisfied that he fully resolved the matter."
The Gray Lady then indecorously suggests — without even asking, say, the outlet who reported the incident — that the theft story was some kind of dirty political trick:
It was still not clear what the incident was or why someone leaked information about it while Mr. Kundra was on leave.
To be clear: A longtime tipster, with no political agenda known to us, pointed out Kundra's case. But it was not "leaked." Again, anyone with a Web browser could have found it. What we still don't know: Do Obama's vetters know how to use the Google? And have they reappointed Kundra out of embarrassment over their own ineptness?