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Knee-deep in scandal?

"Knee-deep in scandal?" Continued...

Issue: "Broken promises," March 25, 2006

Georgia political operatives saw that passing comment as a setback for Mr. Reed, according to Jay Lewis, a former employee of Mr. Reed's Century Strategies consulting firm. Mr. Lewis, now a Cagle supporter who does direct mail work for Mr. Cagle's campaign through his Buford, Ga.-based Stoneridge Group, said that, considering Mr. Reed's extensive work for Mr. Bush's campaigns in the past, Georgia pundits expected the president to single out Mr. Reed. When he didn't, Mr. Lewis, who was not at the dinner, said he "got three text messages from people there telling me the president mentioned Casey . . . that comment was like the shot heard round the world."

Easy target

Advisor to the Chief accused as in-store thief

A bizarre shopping incident in January will be the likely end to former Bush Administration advisor Claude Allen's political career. He is 45. Mr. Allen was well loved in the White House and survived by numerous Bush Administration officials who had come to know him throughout his employment in the West Wing in numerous roles, most recently as Mr. Bush's domestic policy advisor.

They cried when he left, according to press accounts. Co-workers shed tears at his Feb. 17 going away party not only because he was well liked, but also because few saw it coming. Mr. Allen had announced his intention to leave only about a week before, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. Now it appears Mr. Allen may have had something else on his mind.

On Jan. 2, police say a Target investigator caught Mr. Allen in an attempt to bilk the retail store by returning merchandise he never bought for a cash refund. According to the charging documents, Mr. Allen admitted to the Target loss prevention manager that he used receipts from previous purchases to get cash for items he hadn't bought. Those close to Mr. Allen, including his attorney Mallon Snyder, have denied the charges, saying a mix-up with Mr. Allen's credit cards caused the incident.

On March 9, Montgomery County (Md.) police arrested Mr. Allen and charged him with two felony counts of theft. He could face up to 30 years in prison.

In the aftermath of the criminal charges, the most obvious question arose. Why? If he had money problems, what good would bilking Target out of $5,000 do? Mr. Allen was a well-paid government employee, banking $161,000 per year. He had just bought a $1 million home in suburban Washington, D.C., in order to be closer to his Gaithersburg, Md., church.

And he had so much to lose. He was a rising star in conservative political circles. He was a one-time nominee for the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, earning him comparisons with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. As an African-American, he was a regular mouthpiece for the administration on BET news shows. In an administration friendly to evangelicals, he stood out as a champion for abstinence, personal responsibility, and faith-based initiatives.

A few days after Mr. Allen's arrest, Mr. Bush eulogized his political career: "If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life, and that is really sad. When I heard the story last night, I was shocked. And my first reaction was one of disappointment, deep disappointment that-if it's true-that we were not fully informed."

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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