A federal law known as the Hatch Act, which places limitations on political activities that could impact elections, was found to have been violated by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, according to a government watchdog. The Office of Special Counsel concluded recently that Jean-Pierre’s frequent use of the term “mega MAGA Republicans” in relation to Republican candidates during the lead-up to the 2022 midterm elections went against the provisions of the Hatch Act.
According to the news outlet, Ana Galindo-Marrone, who heads the Hatch Act Unit at the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), stated in a letter dated June 7th, “Because Ms. Jean‐Pierre made the statements while acting in her official capacity, she violated the Hatch Act prohibition against using her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”
The organization further stated that Jean-Pierre’s comments constituted an inappropriate effort to sway the voting process.
Although the violation occurred, the agency stated that it has chosen to conclude the matter without taking any additional steps. They explained that White House lawyers did not consider Ms. Jean-Pierre’s statements to be prohibited at the time.
The Hatch Act, established in 1939, forbids employees within the executive branch from utilizing their official authority or influence to interfere with or influence election outcomes.
In November of last year, the conservative watchdog organization Protect the Public’s Trust filed a Hatch Act complaint against Jean-Pierre following a White House briefing in which President Biden’s spokesperson initially employed the phrase to criticize Republicans.
“Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law. They refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections and they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn. It remains important for the president to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy,” Jean-Pierre stated in a White House briefing last November 2.
During an October 21 speech, President Biden, who is 80 years old, employed the phrase “mega MAGA” to criticize Republican economic policies, referring to them as “mega MAGA trickle-down.”
Jean-Pierre becomes the fourth member of the Biden administration to be discovered violating the Hatch Act. In a similar case, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra was found to have violated the federal law in April of the previous year by publicly endorsing the re-election of California Democratic Senator Alex Padilla.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) discovered that former White House chief of staff Ron Klain violated the Hatch Act by retweeting a Twitter post on May 22, 2022, that promoted the purchase of partisan Democratic group Strike PAC’s merchandise with the slogan “Democrats Deliver.” This finding was made in October of the previous year.
Additionally, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted to violating the law in 2021 by expressing support for Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for governor.
While the Hatch Act permits fines of up to $1,000 and potential bans on federal employment for violators, the usual consequences are less severe and often involve unwelcome attention.