Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she made remarks in her official capacity during a February 25, 2012 speech in which she extemporaneously called to reelect President Barack Obama, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined on Wednesday.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election, and it is up to President Barack Obama to determine whether Sebelius loses her job for having violated the Hatch Act.
The OSC reported that Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she represented HHS at a Human Rights Campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Human Rights Campaign is a gay and lesbian advocacy organization.
“One of the imperatives is to make sure that we not only come 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 because this effort has just begun,” Sebelius said at the event, according to OSC report. “It’s hugely important to make sure that we re-elect the president and elect a Democratic governor here in North Carolina.”
Sebelius wrote that she regretted making the statements and immediately “converted my participation in the event from official to political… keeping the roles straight can be a difficult tasks, particularly on mixed trips that involve both campaign and official stops on the same day.”
The OSC also noted Sebelius and HHS reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for all costs and expenses associated with her travel to the event.
The OSC is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency.