A newly appointed member of the Biden administration is facing allegations that she broke federal law earlier this year.
According to Politico, the Office of Special Counsel has determined that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge violated the Hatch Act when she weighed in on an Ohio Senate race.
The accusation arose from a press conference on March 18 during which Fudge was asked by a reporter about possible candidates in her home state’s 2022 election.
Despite initially saying that she would provide no comment, Fudge went on to say that Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley might be running. The secretary described both individuals as being friends of hers.
“I think we have a good shot at it”
“I mean, I think we’re going to put a good person in that race, no matter who we choose,” Fudge said at the briefing, according to Politico.
“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,” she continued.
Ryan has since formally announced his plan to fill the seat left open by retiring Sen. Rob Portman, while Whaley has launched a gubernatorial campaign.
Those remarks led the conservative watchdog group Americans for Public Trust to file a complaint with the Special Counsel’s Office over a possible Hatch Act violation. Passed in 1939, the Hatch Act restricts political activity on the part of federal employees.
Fudge expressed regret for remarks
Politico reported that Fudge subsequently issued a statement in which she expressed regret over her comments, saying, “I acknowledge that I should have stuck with my first instinct and not answered the question.”
She added, “I take these things seriously and I want to assure the American people that I am focused on meeting the needs of our country.”
Ana Galindo-Marrone, the chief of Office of Special Counsel’s Hatch Act Unit, released a letter late last week summarizing the office’s findings.
“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,” Galindo-Marrone wrote.