The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has determined that a cabinet member of President Joe Biden violated federal law by abusing his position.
Fox News Digital reported on Tuesday that Special Counsel Henry Kerner informed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra that he violated the Hatch Act “by publicly expressing support for California Democrat Sen. Alex Padilla’s reelection while appearing in an official capacity as HHS secretary,” according to a letter sent by Kerner.
“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 noted in the letter.
“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election,” Kerner noted further. “In delivering his speech, Secretary Becerra impermissibly mixed his personal electoral preference 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,” Kerner wrote.
The special counsel added that with “a presidential election approaching next year, this report offers an opportunity to deter violations by reminding federal employees at all levels of the Hatch Act’s restrictions.”
“Accordingly, I submit to you the enclosed report, together with Secretary Becerra’s response, for your consideration,” Kerner concluded in his letter.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra violated Hatch Act, Office of Special Counsel findshttps://t.co/bbIyOWIK1Y
— Harmeet K. Dhillon (@pnjaban) April 18, 2023
Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra violated the Hatch Act after he advocated for the election of a Democrat while speaking “in his official capacity” at an awards gala in late 2022, according to a new investigation. pic.twitter.com/Mxdw7a9kNF
— Julia 🇺🇸 (@Jules31415) April 18, 2023
In his response to the findings of the special counsel, Becerra described his remarks as a “inadvertent violation” and added that he regretted uttering them. In addition, he stated that he “did not realize at the time that my off-the-cuff comments about my personal voting intentions violated the Hatch Act.”
“I now understand why they were not permitted,” Becerra noted in his statement, saying he received “additional counseling” via the HHS ethics department on the Hatch Act itself. The Biden official said he would “work hard to ensure that there are no future violations.”
Fox News Digital reported that Padilla first joined the Senate after Vice President Kamala Harris departed to join the Biden administration.
Republicans in Congress criticized Becerra’s policies last month when they questioned him about his department’s remote work policies. Fox News Digital noted that despite multiple requests, Becerra refused to disclose the percentage of his workforce that continues to telework three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though numerous offices have resumed in-person operations.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, repeatedly asked Becerra during a budget hearing before the Senate Finance Committee how many HHS employees are presently working remotely, but he received no response.
“This image was captured at 10:40 a.m. on Monday at the HHS headquarters. Cassidy showed the secretary a photograph of a vacant lot and remarked, “It’s kind of empty.” Cassidy later clarified that it was the parking lot for the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“Can you give a breakdown of how many full-time employees are at their desk in one of these buildings every day?” Cassidy asked.
“Senator, when you take a look at the workforce at HHS, and we’re close to 90,000 throughout the country and working in various parts of the country, some here at headquarters … by the way, headquarters —” Becerra began.
“I’ve got limited time,” Cassidy quickly interjected, according to Fox News. “So, tell me, of what percent of the employees are at their desk … on any given day?”
“Our folks are working full time,” Becerra said.
More on this story via Conservative Brief:
“No, but how many are at their desk as opposed to being at home or someplace else, a coffee shop or whatever?” Cassidy pressed on. CONTINUE READING…