President Barack Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Wednesday.
Sebelius violated the law, the office said, when she publicly endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election during a taxpayer-funded public event on Feb. 25, 2012.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner wrote to Obama that the OSC found Sebelius “violated the Hatch Act by making extemporaneous political remarks in a speech delivered in her official capacity” on Feb. 25.
“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election,” Lerner wrote to the president. “A federal employee is permitted to make partisan remarks when speaking in their personal capacity, but not when using an official title or when speaking about agency business.”
“Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services reimbursed the U.S. government for all costs and expenses associated with her travel to the February 25, 2012, event,” Lerner continued. “HHS subsequently reclassified the trip from official to political and issued a statement to that effect. OSC found no evidence that Secretary Sebelius made any other political statements in her official capacity.”
The Federal Times suggests that Sebelius may be fired for her illegal activity. “The finding could possibly cost Sebelius her job,” the outlet reported. “Although OSC did not recommend any specific punishment, and said Obama will decide how to punish her, Hatch Act violators are usually fired.”