Documents obtained by Judicial Watch confirm that somebody in the White House told officials with the General Services Administration (GSA) to "stand down" and not arrest Occupy Portland protestors who may have broken the law last year.
Former GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck told a senior Department of Homeland Security official that the federal housekeeping agency had been instructed by the Obama White House to go easy on the Occupy protestors.
In a Nov. 6, 2011, DHS/National Protection and Programs Directorate Chief of Staff Caitlin Durkovich asked GSA's Peck if it was true that his agency had asked Federal Protective Service officials not to take action against the Occupy Portland protestors.
"Yes, that is our position," Peck responded. "It's been vetted with our Administrator and Michael Robertson, our chief of staff, and we have communicated with the WH [White House], which has afforded us the discretion to fashion our approach to Occupy issues...The arrests last week were carried out despite our request that the protesters [sic] be allowed to remain and to camp overnight..."
The Occupy Portland protestors had been protesting for several days on GSA-owned property in the Portland area. Eleven of the protestors had chained themselves to a railing in a downtown Portland park. A week before the Peck email, Portland police, some dressed in riot gear, had arrested more than two dozen Occupy Portland protestors.
The Obama White House denied on multiple occasions during the Occupy protests last year that anybody in the Obama administration had given aid or encouragement to the demonstrations, many of which erupted into public and private property destruction, arrests for drug dealing and prostitution and public health violations.
Peck was forced to resign from GSA earlier this year following revelations that agency officials had spent lavishly on a regional conference in Las Vegas.
"We now have a new GSA scandal - one that involves the Obama White House," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "These documents clearly show that federal agencies colluded with the Obama White House to allow the Occupy Wall Street protestors to violate the law with impunity. These documents tell us that the GSA and DHS can't be relied upon to protect federal workers or property."
For more from Judicial Watch on the Occupy documents, go here.
UPDATE: GSA denies WH gave Occupy directions
Mafara Hobson told The Washington Examiner today that former GSA Public Buildings Service Commissioner Robert Peck was wrong in telling a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security that his agency was told by the White House to "stand down" on arrests of Occupy Portland protestors demonstrating on federal property last year.
"The General Services Administration worked closely with the Portland Police Bureau and the Federal Protective Service (FPS) in maintaining the health and safety of the general public, protesters and federal employees during last year's Portland Occupy protests- however FPS and local law enforcement had the best understanding of the situation on the ground in Terry Schrunk Park, and determined the necessary action," Hobson said.
Asked if she was specifically saying Peck was in error, Hobson responded: "Yes, I'm saying that the decisions that were made were based on the judgment of the law enforcement folks on the ground ONLY. He's not correct."
The Washington Examiner is seeking comment from Peck.
UPDATE II: Throwing Peck under the bus?
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton responds to the GSA statement above, saying:
“The documents speak for themselves and detail, in black and white, high level communications within the Obama administration. If there are additional documents that show these Obama administration documents are false, they should be produced. Throwing Peck under the bus won't fix it."