President Biden Fires Architect of the Capitol

Brett Blanton was accused of numerous violations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2023 2:59 PM CST
Biden Fires Architect of the Capitol
J. Brett Blanton, Architect of the Capitol, speaks during the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

President Joe Biden has fired the embattled Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, following a scathing inspector general report on his personal and professional management and calls for his removal. The White House said Monday that Blanton’s appointment was terminated. It comes as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Monday he’d lost confidence in Blanton’s ability to do the job. An inspector general report released last year found "administrative, ethical, and policy violations" by Blanton, a Trump-era appointee, including that he abused his government vehicle and misrepresented himself as a law enforcement official, the AP reports.

A House hearing last week unearthed new questions and criticisms—including that he was not at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when it came under attack by former President Donald Trump's supporters. "The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job. He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately,” McCarthy said Monday in a tweet. The speaker’s statement came as criticism swirled around the architect, who is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the historic Capitol building and its surrounding complex and grounds. Blanton was nominated in December 2019 by Trump as the 12th Architect of the Capitol, and confirmed to the post by the Senate.

Blanton came under intense criticism after the inspector general report found Blanton allowed unauthorized use of his work vehicle, including by his wife and adult daughter, racking up nearly 30,000 miles—about triple the estimate for his official use. The inspector general said it received a hotline complaint on March 7, 2021, "concerning the misuse" of an AOC (Architect of the Capitol) vehicle. It said the black Ford Explorer near the Walmart just outside Washington, DC was driving "extremely reckless in the parking garage and swerving out of the garage at a high rate of speed."

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The complainant said the driver, a woman later identified to be Blanton’s adult daughter, "made obscene gestures toward them while at the stop sign outside the parking garage." The report said the family racked up miles on the vehicle beyond what was estimated for the architect’s official use, amounting to $13,926.56 in questioned costs. It said the daughter had referred to using the AOC's fuel as "free gas." (More US Capitol stories.)

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