Oct. 10, 2006
 
EDITORIAL: A Stealth Resignation
 
By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
 
The White House finally caught a break on scandals. Thanks to the uproar over former GOP Rep. Mark Foley's steamy e-mails, the departure of a top aide to White House political guru Karl Rove passed, as planned, almost unnoticed.
 
Susan Ralston resigned Thursday but the White House delayed announcing the resignation until late Friday, Oct. 6, 2006, its preferred time for bad news, when it was likely to draw the least attention.
 
Before joining the Bush White House "as the right hand to the president's closest adviser," as The Washington Post described her job, Ralston had worked for Jack Abramoff, a prominent lobbyist with extensive Republican connections who has since been convicted in an influence peddling scandal. Abramoff continued to contact Ralston in her new position and she, at least occasionally, passed on inside information to her former boss, according to a report by the House Government Reform Committee.
 
The report said Abramoff's records claimed 485 contacts with the White House over three years. The report did not say how many were real and substantive and how many might have been Abramoff boasting to clients but it is clear that his contacts were more extensive than the White House let on.
 
But with Ralston's resignation -- she did not want to be a "distraction" as the election drew close -- the White House considers, or devoutly wishes, the matter closed. "Nothing more will come from the report, no further fallout from the report," said deputy Bush press secretary Dana Perino.
 
Ralston may have also violated White House ethics regulations by accepting pricey sports and concert tickets from Abramoff. But now that she has resigned, the White House considers any violations moot.
 
How convenient, as the Church Lady used to say.
 
Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD@SHNS.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com