SEARCH

Entries in Violation (2)

Wednesday
Sep122012

Office of Special Counsel Says HHS Secretary Violated Hatch Act

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama was notified Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that one of his key Cabinet officials violated the Hatch Act, the law that restricts the political activity of anyone employed or holding office in the Executive Branch except for the president and vice president.

Carolyn Lerner, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, concluded that Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she served as the Guest of Honor and Keynote Speaker at the Feb. 25, 2012 gala for the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte, N.C.

The event was billed as official travel, and she appeared at the event in an official capacity, but in her remarks -- which departed from her official text -- she advocated for the election of Lt. Governor Walter Dalton in his primary and general election race for governor, and for the re-election of President Obama, saying “one of the imperatives is to make sure that we not only come together here in Charlotte to present the nomination to the president, but we make sure that in November he continues to be president for another four years.”

After media inquiries following those remarks, the Department of Health and Human Services “retroactively reclassified the event as political,” the OSC report states, and reimbursed the federal government for the costs of her travel.

When asked about her remarks in an interview with OSC investigators, the report says Sebelius “expressed regret for the statements” regarding Dalton “since there were ‘other primary opponents who were close by.’” She said her “‘shout out’ came across ‘as an endorsement.’” She allowed that her comments about President Obama were “a mistake” and an example of her again going “off script.” “I clearly made a mistake,” Sebelius said. “I was not intending to use an official capacity to do a political event.”

Lerner did not recommend that any action be taken against Sebelius.

In a letter to Lerner, Sebelius seemed to take issue with some of the report, noting that she reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for related expenses. It “seems somewhat unfair to conclude that, as a result of my off-hand statements, I used my official title for political purposes,” she wrote, saying, “the violation was technical and minor. These are not the type of violations that the Hatch Act is intended to address.”

Sebelius said she told the USC investigators that while she regretted making the statements that converted my participation in the event from official to political …keeping the roles straight can be a difficult task, particularly on mixed trips that involved both campaign and official stops on the same day.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug012012

House Dem Laura Richardson Fined $10K for Violating House Rules

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- California Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson has agreed to be reprimanded by the House of Representatives and fined $10,000 for violating House rules. Richardson used official resources for her 2010 re-election campaign and obstructed the Ethics committee’s investigation into her actions.
 
The committee recommended that the full House reprimand Richardson, who is serving her third term in the lower chamber. A vote on reprimand could occur before the House leaves for a five-week recess, although Thursday’s floor schedule has not been announced yet. The committee recommended the punishment in a report posted on its website.
 
The year-long investigation, "unanimously concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Representative Laura Richardson violated the Purpose Law...by improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work, and by obstructing the investigation of the Committee and the [Investigative Subcommittee] through the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses."
 
"Representative Richardson's submission continues the approach she has taken in this matter from the outset: an utter absence of true remorse for her misuse of official resources and, equally as significant, for what she has put her staff through, as well as a near total deflection of responsibility for this matter," the report stated.
 
According to the report, Richardson ordered a staff member, "to go to her opponent's campaign office and volunteer to assist her opponent's campaign, using a fictitious name, for the purpose of gathering information including fliers and leaflets from that opponent."
 
This fall, Richardson is facing fellow incumbent Democrat, Freshman Janice Hahn, in a newly drawn district in the Golden State. Hahn defeated Richardson in a primary earlier this summer, but the duo will compete again this fall in a head-to-head race. The committee also, "unanimously agreed to strongly discourage Representative Richardson from permitting any of her official staff to perform work on her campaign." If a staffer chooses to work on Richardson’s campaign, the aide will be required to sign a waiver asserting that the work will be provided voluntarily, not by the order of the congresswoman.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio