Ethics Watchdog Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during the International Atomic Energy Age
JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

A non-partisan ethics watchdog group asked the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate the Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to determine if she violated the Hatch Act during an interview while acting in her official capacity as a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

The complaint, filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) with the OSC, argues Granholm allegedly violated the Hatch Act by making political remarks when she was interviewed by Emily Tisch Sussman for a Marie Claire Instagram Live video while acting in her official capacity.

The complaint noted that while Granholm was introduced as the “Energy Secretary,” what she discussed quickly became political, talking about the “importance of electing progressive Democrats to help pass President Biden’s spending plan.”

“First of all, not to be partisan, but I am part of a Democratic administration, and fortunately we have just bare, but we do have majorities in the House and Senate,” Granholm said during her interview. “We’ve got to get this stuff through.”

The complaint outlined what the Hatch Act prohibits, which is why the watchdog group believes the OSC should “immediately investigate and take any appropriate disciplinary action” against Granholm if found guilty:

The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election, including using his or her official title while participating in political activity. Specifically, Executive Branch Agency Secretaries are prohibited from making political remarks while appearing in their official capacity.

“The Hatch Act is an important law that maintains separation between government and politics, which protects both the citizen’s trust in government and taxpayer dollars from abuse,” FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold said in a statement. “In this case there is no doubt that Secretary Granholm was speaking in her official capacity with the Department of Energy Seal displayed behind her.”

“I’m subject to something called the Hatch Act, which means I can’t advocate for people to call their Members of Congress,” Granholm said during the interview, acknowledging what the secretary is not allowed to do in her official capacity. “If I weren’t subject to the Hatch Act, I’m sure you know I would be, but I am so I can’t do that.”

“She even acknowledged the Hatch Act and that it applied to her remarks but, despite this, she made political statements and advocated for a political party’s candidates,” Arnold added. “The Office of Special Counsel must investigate and impose the proper penalties if Secretary Granholm is found in violation.”

A full copy of the FACT’s complaint against Granholm can be found here.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.


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