A high-level official in the Biden Administration has received an official complaint made against her, standing accused of violating the Hatch Act, after she discussed which Democrats could run for the Senate next year.
The Hatch Act 1939 is a piece of federal legislation which bars government officials from making partisan statements or activities whilst serving in their official capacity.
Americans for Public Trust, who are a non-profit organization that seeks to restore trust in government, have accused Marcia Fudge, the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, of violating the act at a White House news briefing regarding the Covid-19 relief bill.
How has she broken the Hatch Act?
Fudge appeared at the White House news briefing to answer questions regarding the Covid-19 relief bill, that was passed through Congress by the Democrats.
However, as she took center stage, she was asked a question that she really shouldn’t have answered.
According to a transcript released by the White House, Fudge was asked a question regarding her thoughts about who might take her seat in Congress.
Originally, she declined to make any comments, but then she was quizzed further about the Senate race in her home state of Ohio.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attempted to intervene but made no effect.
The reporter persisted, asking Fudge if she thought a Democrat should run in her place.
‘Absolutely,’ Fudge replied, before going on to name two candidates that she believes should enter the race.
She then went on to admit that many people had ‘written off’ Ohio in terms of a Democrat victory, yet stated that she believes ‘we can win the Senate race.’
The Americans for Public Trust pounced on the answers given by Fudge after her briefing, accusing her of violating the Hatch Act and damaging her position as a cabinet minister.
In a letter to Henry Kerner, the special counsel at the US Office of Special Counsel, the executive director of Americans for Public Trust, Caitlin Sutherland, stated that due to the ‘highly partisan’ nature of the Democrat’s Covid-19 relief bill, Fudge squandered on the opportunity to show the American people that *‘all individuals are respected, regardless of political leanings.’ *
She continued, blasting Fudge for using her first media appearance as a chance to express her support for her political party’s interests.
A wave of criticism has now hit the desk of Secretary Fudge, with several, high-profile officials speaking out against her actions.
Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under the George W. Bush Administration, stated that Fudge has clearly broken the rules.
He stated that she would’ve been briefed on the policies of the Hatch Act and that her statement was ‘completely inappropriate.’
Noah Bookbinder, who currently serves as the President of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, stated that her comments about the Ohio race were ‘troubling,’ before claiming that the secretary had entered ‘dangerous territory’ after she decided to comment on her party’s chances of winning a specific race.
All of this criticism prompted Fudge to make a statement, admitting her wrongs and owning up to her own standards that she had broken.
She stated that she ‘should have stuck with her first instinct’ and not answered the question that was posed to her, before going on to ‘assure’ the American public that she is committed to fulfil the ‘needs of our country.’