One high-ranking member of the Biden administration has been found in violation of federal law.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has determined that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits most members of the executive branch from participating in partisan politics while acting in their official capacities.
“I haven’t written off Ohio”
The problematic incident was said to have occurred during a White House press briefing in March.
At that time, the former congresswoman from Ohio was asked to weigh in on the Democratic Party’s chance of replacing retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in next year’s midterm election.
“Tim Ryan, of course, is thinking about it,” Fudge said. “I understand Nan Whaley is thinking about it. I mean, I think we’re going to put a good person in that race no matter who we choose, but they’re both friends. I think we have a good shot at it. I know people have written off Ohio. I haven’t written off Ohio. I believe we can win the Senate race.”
The OSC determined that her remarks on the topic constituted a Hatch Act violation.
“OSC reviewed a transcript of the event and learned that Secretary Fudge appeared in her official capacity at the briefing and answered press questions about HUD-related topics,” the office said.
“While speaking in her official capacity”
Although “she declined to respond” to reporters’ questions about the election to fill her vacated seat, it was her willingness to discuss the midterm Senate election that raised red flags.
“By stating, for example, that ‘we have a good shot at it,’ and ‘I believe we can win the Senate race,’ Secretary Fudge showed support for the Democratic Party with respect to the Ohio Senate race while speaking in her official capacity,” the OSC statement added.
In response, officials issued Fudge a warning letter.
She later expressed regret about the situation in a statement of her own, adding: “When I was discussing getting relief to the American People and the American Rescue Plan from the briefing room on Thursday, I answered a question from a reporter related to Ohio politics.”
Acknowledging that she should have gone with her “first instinct” to avoid the query, Fudge explained that she takes “these things seriously” and assured Americans that she remains “focused on meeting the needs of our country.”