How low can a Bush Administration official sink?

Pretty low.

[Claude] Allen, 45, was arrested Thursday by police in Montgomery County, Md., for allegedly claiming refunds for more than $5,000 worth of merchandise he did not buy, according to county and federal authorities. He had been under investigation since at least January for alleged thefts on 25 occasions at Target and Hecht's stores.

"If the allegations are true, Claude Allen did not tell my chief of staff and legal counsel the truth, and that's deeply disappointing" the president said at the White House following an event on Iraq. "If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life, and that is really sad."

Allen, who had been the No. 2 official at the Health and Human Services Department, was named as domestic policy adviser at the White House in early 2005. He resigned abruptly on Feb. 9, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The night of Jan. 2, after an alleged incident at the Target in Gaithersburg, Md., presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Allen called White House chief of staff Andy Card to tell him what had happened. The next morning, Allen spoke in person with Card and White House counsel Harriet Miers.

McClellan said Allen told Card and Miers that it was all a misunderstanding and cited confusion with his credit card because he had moved several times. "He assured them that he had done nothing wrong and the matter would be cleared up," McClellan said.

Jeez... phony refunds at Target? That's a welfare-queen stunt. What a low-rent White House!

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