(Luis Cornelio, Headline USA) Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra violated the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel found, marking yet another instance of a Biden official violating federal law.
Special Counsel Henry Kerner delivered a scathing letter to President Joe Biden, saying that Becerra violated federal law by publicly endorsing the re-election campaign of leftist U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, D-Calif., in his official capacity as the HHS secretary.
“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 said.
“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election,” Kerner continued. “In delivering his speech, Secretary Becerra impermissibly mixed his personal electoral preferences with official remarks. 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.”
OSC says Sect. Becerra violated the Hatch Act. pic.twitter.com/Cyh5wWIA06
— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 18, 2023
Padilla was appointed to the U.S. Senate by leftist California Gov. Gavin Newsom as a replacement for then-U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.
Becerra attempted to downplay the scathing findings, describing his federal offense as an “inadvertent violation.”
“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 claimed in statements to the Democrat-friendly Washington Post.
Becerra’s violation wouldn’t mark the first time a Biden official violated the Hatch Act. In March 2021, Department of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge received a slap on the wrist for engaging in a prohibited election talk during a March 2021 press conference at the White House, the New York Post reported at the time.
In October 2021, the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington accused former White House press secretary Jen Psaki of violating the Hatch Act by saying President Biden supported the leftist campaign of Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial election in 2021.
Former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain violated federal law when he retweeted a political message on his official government account. Klein removed the tweet after being notified of the violation and faced no disciplinary action over it.
“Although OSC has concluded that Mr. Klain violated the Hatch Act, as explained below, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and instead issued him a warning letter,” the OSC told the former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who now leads America First Legal.
In contrast, the OSC demanded the removal of former Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after she violated the Hatch Act by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”
Given the OSC’s record of soft-balling Biden officials, it is unlikely that Becerra will face disciplinary action for his violation.