White House Pushing Its Agenda Through Art?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Call for Help

Senator John Cornyn sent a letter to President Obama raising concerns about an August conference call hosted by the White House and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Texas Republican cites the blog of a Los Angeles-area artist which states that the administration and the NEA were steering artists towards creating works on contentious political issues like health care reform.

Cornyn says he is concerned about the politicization of the NEA and that it is inappropriate to enlist artists to advance a specific political agenda. He writes: "A reasonable observer would view the NEA's participation in the August 10 call as implying that NEA grant opportunities (i.e. taxpayer dollars) may be tied to artists' willingness to use their creative talents to advance your administration's political agenda. This is not, and has never been, the purpose of the NEA."

The White House would not comment on the matter and referred us to the NEA. We're still trying to reach anyone at the NEA.

Card Check Is In the Mail

At a Labor Day event, Vice President Joe Biden alongside Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Arlen Specter pushed the Employee Free Choice Act — or "card check" — insisting the legislation will pass this year. But, the Obama administration may not be practicing what it's preaching when it comes to organizing labor unions.

The Washington Times reports the Legal Services Corporation, a congressionally chartered and taxpayer-funded legal aid program for the poor, has rejected the exact same provision that would be in card check legislation.

The group quashed an effort by some of its own workers to organize without a secret ballot. Employees asked the agency's president to accept cards signed by an overwhelming majority of workers wishing to unionize. But Helaine Barnett, the Legal Services Corp president, dismissed the request saying that "authorization cards are often an unreliable indicator of support for a union."

Inquiring Minds

An update on a story we've brought you several times on the Grapevine. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility has begun an inquiry into the May dismissal of a civil complaint against the New Black Panther Party.

The Washington Times reports the inquiry was disclosed in a letter from the office's acting-counsel to Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, who raised concerns about the case.

Two New Black Panther Party members were accused of intimidating voters on Election Day last November in Philadelphia. The only charge that stood was against the group's leader, who was punished for brandishing a deadly weapon.

— FOX News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.