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Blanton will cease to serve as the architect of the Capitol at 5:00 PM ET, the White House announced.
Biden removed the architect, who serves at the president’s pleasure, after Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he had lost confidence in Blanton’s ability to perform his job.
“The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job,” McCarthy wrote in a Feb. 13 Twitter post. “He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately.”
Blanton was “terminated at the President’s direction,” the White House said on Monday.
Concerns about Blanton center around an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report finished last year that found “administrative, ethica, and policy violations.” These included abuse of his government vehicle and misrepresentation of himself as a law enforcement officer (pdf).
At the top of the document, the OIG report concludes: “J. Brett Blanton, Architect of the Capitol, Abused His Authority, Misused Government Property and Wasted Taxpayer Money, Among Other Substantiated Violations.”
“Prior to and throughout the OIG investigation, Blanton consistently contradicted his vehicle-use authority,” the report reads.
The report relays an ethics tip describing an encounter with Blanton’s vehicle.
The complainant spotted Blanton’s government-issue black Ford Explorer. At the time, the vehicle was reportedly “driving extremely reckless[ly]” through a parking garage. The driver, a female, was going an estimated 65 miles per hour or faster in an area with a speed limit of 30.
The driver at the time was later revealed to be Blanton’s daughter.
The report noted that while “the Architect of the Capitol (person) or their designee has the authority to determine if a compelling operational condition exists that would benefit AOC operations by using a motor vehicle for [home-to-work] use,” Blanton had not identified his daughter as an authorized driver of the vehicle.
The report goes on to list other violations committed by Blanton with other government-issue vehicles.
Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Administration Committee, agrees with McCarthy on the need to remove Blanton.
“[The] Inspector General’s report was highly concerning,” Steil was quoted as saying on a Twitter post. “[Blanton’s] refusal to be transparent and truthful has made clear that he can no longer lead the organization and must resign immediately.”
It was not only Republicans who are critical of Blanton—Democrats have also blasted the embattled former architect.
During a hearing, Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) told Blanton she was “outraged” by his decision to work from home on Jan. 6, 2021.
Blanton chose to work from home that day, which law enforcement leaders expected could take a turn for the worst.
Citizens for Ethics, a left-leaning political oversight organization, also called for Blanton’s removal in a Jan. 18, 2023 letter to the leadership of the 118th Congress (pdf).
Blanton could not be immediately reached for comment.
By Joseph Lord