The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has determined that U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated the Hatch Act by endorsing Democratic candidates.
The OSC found that Granholm explicitly endorsed Democratic Party candidates during an October 6 interview.
The OSC determined that the Hatch Act was violated by Granholm because she advocated voting for particular candidates when speaking in her official capacity as energy secretary of the United States.
On June 9, the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust (FACT) requested that the OSC investigate the matter.
According to Fox News: Erica Hamrick, the deputy chief of the OSC’s Hatch Act Unit, wrote to FACT:
“OSC has concluded that Secretary Granholm engaged in political activity when she gave this response promoting the electoral success of the Democratic Party.”
“While she then attempted to backpedal by stating that she was using ‘Democrats as a substitute’ for certain policies, at bottom she told listeners that they needed to vote for Democrats so that more Democrats would be elected to pass the legislation they wanted.”
After reviewing the interview and arguments regarding the context of certain comments, Hamrick determined Granholm’s “attempt to backpedal does not change the meaning of her words or undo the fact that she was talking about the Democratic Party throughout her statement.”
Hamrick concluded that Granholm “engaged in activity directed at the success of the Democratic Party,” thus violating the 1939 Hatch Act’s guidelines regarding how much federal employees can participate in partisan political activity.
However, the OSC determined that Granholm’s violation did not warrant disciplinary action, noting that Granholm hadn’t received “significant” training on the Hatch Act before the October interview.
The OSC noted it would be sending a “warning letter” to the energy secretary stating further violations could result in action.
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