Ex-Bush aide arrested for theft was nominee for Court of Appeals

Sunday, March 12, 2006 at 03:01 PM

You'd have to read pretty deep into the news stories to find out, but Claude Allen, the ex-Bush aide recently arrested on charges that he effectively stole some $5,000 of merchandise from retailers is the same Claude Allen that Bush had nominated to the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.  After it became clear that Bush would be unable to push the nomination through the senate, Allen "requested" that his nomination be withdrawn.

Our illustrious president has stated that he is "shocked" by the charges against Allen.  When you finish reading this, you probably won't be.

Allen is an evagelical Christian whose three children are home schooled.  During the effort to get his nomination through the Senate, C. Boyden Gray described Allen as having promised "to be the type of judge who buttresses the foundation of American government -- by applying the rule of law however he finds it."  It now looks like Allen may not find that rule of law to be to his liking.

When Bush nominated Allen for the Court of Appeals, Allen had served 7.5 years as an attorney, well below the 12 years that the American Bar Association prefers as the minimum legal experience for judicial nominees.   At the time of his nomination, and for some time after, Allen was serving as Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  In early 2005, he was named domestic policy adviser at the White House, a role he played until resigning suddenly on Feb. 9 allegedly because he wanted to spend more time with his family.  In his domestic policy advisor role, Allen was being paid $161,000 a year, one of the top salaries among White House staff.

Allen's political career is a model of contradictions, many of which were explored during his Senate confirmation hearings.  Allen was the first black member of the staff of Jesse Helms, widely regarded as one of the most commited racists in the federal government.  Allen served Helms at the time that Helms was a leader of the fight against making Martin Luther King day a national holiday.  At his Senate hearings, Allen had explained this anomaly by saying that, while King was "a hero for me and my family - my generation," and deserved the honor of a holiday, he [Allen] had shared Helms's concern that King might have been close to Communists.

Nor was that the only oddity in the public life of Claude A. Allen.

He had been quoted as saying in 1984 that Helms's opponent that year was vulnerable because his campaign could be "linked with the queers." In typical religious right wing fashion, his later apology was in the form of a statement that he had not intended his words to be a slur against gay men and lesbians.

While working for former Virginia governor James Gilmore, Allen had given King Salim Khalfani, the state's NAACP executive secretary, a gift of a painting of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.

All in all, yet another fine example of our illustrious president's remarkable talent for choosing administrators, judges, and other appointees.  By the time he leaves office, Bush may well hold the record (if he doesn't already) for both appointees laughed out of office and appointees who went directly from their appointment to jail.

However unbalanced Mr. Allen may turn out to be--and the signs certainly indicate that he is--you have to feel for his family.  He's out of a very good-paying White House job, he's charged with a felony that could result in serious jail time, and the family reportedly purchased a $958,300 house in October 2005.