Office of Special Counsel cites Biden official for Hatch Act violation

 April 20, 2023

Allegations emerged earlier this week that a high-ranking official in the Biden administration violated federal law. 

According to the Washington Examiner, that allegation was leveled on Tuesday by a government watchdog agency known as the Office of Special Counsel.

HHS secretary accused of violating the Hatch Act

Special Counsel Henry K. Kerner sent a letter to President Joe Biden asserting that Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra contravened the Hatch Act.

"As explained in the accompanying report, OSC concluded that Secretary Becerra violated the Hatch Act by expressing support for Senator Alex Padilla’s reelection while speaking in his official capacity at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala on September 15, 2022," Kerner wrote.

"The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election," the special counsel continued.

"In delivering his speech, Secretary Becerra impermissibly mixed his personal electoral preference with official remarks," Kerner asserted.

Becerra called California senator his "brother"

"While federal employees are permitted to express support for candidates when speaking in their personal
capacity, the Hatch Act restricts employees from doing so when speaking as a government official," he added.

The Examiner noted that while speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala, Becerra said that he and others in attendance were "proud" to have Padilla as their senator.

"To my brother, my friend, and senator, and someone I will be voting for in a little bit more than a month, Alex Padilla, thank you so much, senator, for being there for all of us," Becerra declared, adding that he would vote to reelect the California Democrat.

For his part, Becerra responded to Kerner's by releasing a statement in which he characterized his words as being "off-the-cuff" remarks.

Former White House chief of staff also ran afoul of Hatch Act

"I did not intend to use my official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, and I regret this inadvertent violation," the secretary declared.

"While I did not realize at the time that my off-the-cuff remarks concerning my personal voting intentions were in violation of the Hatch Act, I now understand why they were not permitted," he insisted.

The Examiner went on to point out that Becerra is not the first Biden White House figure to run afoul of the Hatch Act.

Former Biden chief of staff Ron Klain was also cited in May 2022 after he retweeted a post promoting merchandise from the left-leaning Strike PAC.

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