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Biden’s Chief of Staff Reprimanded for Violating the Hatch Act

White House Press Secretary said the Trump administration 'blatantly, openly, and carelessly' violated the federal regulation

The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden’s chief of staff violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees in the executive branch from engaging in certain political activity.

Ron Klain retweeted a political post from his official Twitter account and was reprimanded in a letter.

“Ron is very careful and takes the Hatch Act very seriously in his media appearances and his use of Twitter. But he got it wrong this time and he retweeted something that was political,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to reporters on Air Force One on Oct. 27. “He fixed it as soon as it was pointed out and takes the warning to be more careful seriously.”

The Hatch Act was passed in 1939 and aims to prevent the misuse of executive authority. The act “restricts federal employee participation in certain partisan political activities” which are considered “activities directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” While working for the federal government, employees cannot participate in political activities while using their official title or authority – including “solicit or receive contributions for partisan political candidates or groups, and engage in political activity while on duty,” per the FDA. There are exceptions for the president and vice president.

“That’s very different than the prior crew here … at the White House before us, previously, that blatantly, openly, and carelessly violated the Hatch Act repeatedly,” she said. “We are not perfect, but our violations have been few.”

The Associated Press noted that Jean-Pierre frequently cites the Hatch Act while speaking to the press and avoiding questions from reporters.

While disclosing Klain’s reprimand to the media, Jean-Pierre argued members of the Trump administration observed the Hatch Act less seriously than the current administration.

America First Legal, a group led by Stephen Miller, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, formally complained about Klain’s actions.

Miller was also found to have violated the Hatch Act while serving in the executive branch.

On May 22, Klain retweeted a post from Strike PAC, a Democratic partisan organization, advertising merchandise with the slogan “Democrats Deliver.” He was investigated by the Office of Special Counsel’s Hatch Act Unit, which is led by Ana Galindo-Marrone.

“Although OSC has concluded that Mr. Klain violated the Hatch Act, as explained below, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and instead issued him a warning letter,” Galindo-Marrone wrote in the letter, per The New York Post. “Mr. Klain has been warned that if in the future he engages in activity prohibited by the Hatch Act while employed in a covered position, OSC would consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law that could result in disciplinary action.”

Violators of the Hatch Act can be fined up to $1,000.

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