Watchdog Group Files Hatch Act Complaint Against White House Press Secretary Over ‘Mega MAGA Republican’ Comment

Watchdog Group Files Hatch Act Complaint Against White House Press Secretary Over ‘Mega MAGA Republican’ Comment
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A government watchdog group announced it filed a complaint against White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre alleging that she had violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that limits the political activities of federal employees, over remarks she made about “Mega MAGA Republican” officials.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT)—a group that seeks to ensure government officials abide by the rules, including by informing the American public about “the self-dealing and conflicts of interest, and the improper and illegal behavior of senior officials across the government”—on Nov. 3 filed a complaint (pdf) to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) over Jean-Pierre’s remarks at a press conference on Nov. 2.

“Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law,” Jean-Pierre had stated at the briefing. “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.”

Michael Chamberlain, director of the watchdog group, said the comments were “disparaging President [Joe] Biden’s political opponents.”

He told Henry Kerner, the special counsel for the OSC and a Trump appointee, that Jean-Pierre’s statements “were clearly made in her role as an employee of the White House and appear to be political in nature, seeking the defeat of her political opponents in the Republican party in the upcoming general election less than a week away on November 8.”

The watchdog group is asking the OSC to “promptly investigate Ms. Jean-Pierre’s conduct as a potential Hatch Act violation based on her use of her official position to advocate for the defeat of a political party.”

“We request that you promptly investigate these potential violations and immediately intervene to ensure that the government officials do not abuse their official authority in an attempt to influence the results of the impending 2022 general election.”

“The comments appear to be clearly designed to influence voters in next week’s election,” Chamberlain said in a separate statement. “A quick and complete investigation into these statements would be a good first step in helping to restore the American public’s trust in its government.”

PPT in a release said that Jean-Pierre’s statement is an “attempt to sway an election” and is a “direct violation of the Hatch Act’s prohibition” against government employees using their office to influence an election.

The group alleges that her statement cannot be attributed to “an insufficient knowledge of the restrictions of the Hatch Act,” in part because her predecessor, Jen Psaki, and White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, have previously been found in violation of the same federal law. Furthermore, Jean-Pierre herself “has on several occasions cited the Hatch Act as justification for avoiding responding to queries from the press corps,” PPT noted.

Jean-Pierre did not immediately respond to an emailed request seeking comment on the matter.

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