A controversial figure on Capitol Hill is out of a job this week amid bipartisan calls for his ouster.
According to reports, President Joe Biden fired J. Brett Blanton from his position as the architect of the Capitol on Monday in response to mounting criticism of his alleged misuse of the position.
Tasked with overseeing various aspects of the Capitol complex, such as maintenance and preservation, Blanton was first appointed to the post in 2019 by then-President Donald Trump. Since then, he has faced allegations that he inappropriately used government vehicles, falsely represented himself as a law enforcement officer, and even led visitors on off-limits tours of the Capitol.
The backlash reached a fever pitch following a congressional hearing earlier this month that focused on concerns included in an inspector general’s report released in October.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is among the high-profile lawmakers who called for Blanton to either step down or be fired.
The Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, no longer has my confidence to continue in his job. He should resign or President Biden should remove him immediately.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) February 13, 2023
Members of the House Administration Committee from both sides of the aisle echoed McCarthy’s concerns.
Rep. Brian Steil (R-WI) called the IG’s report “highly concerning,” adding that the architect’s “refusal to be transparent and truthful has made clear that he can no longer lead the organization and must resign immediately.”
For his part, the top Democrat on the panel reacted to Biden’s decision by calling it the “right thing” to do.
“After being given the opportunity to respond to numerous allegations of legal, ethical, and administrative violations, and failing to directly respond, the President has removed Mr. Brett Blanton from his position — a decision I firmly stand behind,” wrote Rep. Joseph D. Morelle (D-NY) in a statement this week.
Blanton attempted to defend his actions during the recent hearing, but his excuses appeared to fall on deaf ears. As for his personal use of a government-owned vehicle, he claimed that he was “under the impression that [he] had to use that vehicle” in order to maintain contact with officials.
“I wholeheartedly reject any assertion that I engaged in unethical behavior during my service to this country,” he proclaimed.
Prior to the president’s decision to fire him, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fielded a question on the topic and asserted that the administration would “take any advice that the members of Congress or any action that they want to take very seriously.”