Watchdog: White House press secretary acted “contrary” to Hatch Act

Watchdog: White House press secretary acted “contrary” to Hatch Act

  • December 1, 2023
Sareen Habeshian, Axios

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and spokesperson Andrew Bates acted “contrary” to a Hatch Act warning, an independent federal agency said in a letter made public Friday.

The Office of Special Counsel sent the White House a separate letter, obtained by NBC News, concluding that use of the term “MAGA” went against official guidance on adhering to a federal law restricting government employees from engaging in partisan political activities.

But the special counsel found no evidence that either Jean-Pierre or Bates used the term in an official capacity since June 14, per the letter sent to Michael Chamberlain, a former Trump administration official who leads the group Protect the Public’s Trust.

Chamberlain filed a Hatch Act complaint against Jean-Pierre and Bates in June.

The group, which tracks Biden administration ethics waivers, received a response from the special counsel dated Oct. 19, which said that while the agency determined the actions of Jean-Pierre and Bates were “contrary to our June 7 warning letter and advisory opinion,” they “are not pursuing disciplinary action and are closing the matter.”

Meanwhile, Chamberlain called the special counsel’s response “cowed” in a statement Friday that also alleged “blatant defiance of the White House’s most public-facing personnel.”

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