Ethics Watchdog Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm waits for the beginni
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Protect the Public’s Trust, an ethics watchdog group, filed a complaint against Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate an alleged violation of the Hatch Act by appearing at a campaign event for a Democrat candidate for Virginia governor.

The complaint filed with the OSC argued that the secretary allegedly violated the Hatch Act by appearing in her official capacity as a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet early in the day — appearing at Virginia’s Portsmouth Marine Terminal to announce a wind turbine facility that will be built — then hours later delivered a campaign speech on behalf of Virginia gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) at the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s event (FCDC Event) called, “Fairfax Meet and Greet with Jennifer Granholm.”

The complaint argued:

On October 25, Sec. Granholm appeared in her official capacity at Virginia’s Portsmouth Marine Terminal to announce a wind turbine facility to be built nearby (Turbine Event). Later that day, she delivered a campaign speech on behalf of McAuliffe at the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s “Fairfax Meet and Greet with Jennifer Granholm” event (FCDC Event) in Fairfax, Virginia.

During the FCDC Event, Granholm reportedly referenced her work at the Department, discussing issues that fall under the auspices of DOE as well as specifically mentioning the Turbine Event held earlier that day, referred to President Biden as “my boss,” and drew stark comparisons between Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates that favored Terry McAuliffe.

In a tweet containing video from the FCDC Event, Katherine White, co-founder of a Network NOVA, tagged Sec. Granholm’s official, government account, not Granholm’s personal account. Network NOVA is a political group whose self-described purpose is “to take back our democracy by electing progressive candidates and holding them accountable once they are in office.”

The Office of Special Counsel explains the Hatch Act put limits on some types of political activities of federal employees:

The Hatch Act, a federal law passed in 1939, limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. ​The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.​​​​ ​​

Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust, told Breitbart News that “Across Administrations from Julian Castro to Kellyanne Conway to Jen Psaki and now Jennifer Granholm, this type of behavior is problematic.”

“In what appears to be a pattern for Secretary Granholm, it seems she was at an official event and went so far as to reference her duties at DOE in that event to bolster her endorsement of Candidate McAuliffe,” Chamberlain continued. “Public service is a public trust, and appearances matter. PPT is filing a Hatch Act complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. All Americans should expect a vigorous investigation.”

Another complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) was filed against Granholm last week for allegedly violating the Hatch Act during an interview with Emily Tisch Sussman for a Marie Claire Instagram Live video while acting in her official capacity as a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet.

The FACT complaint noted that the secretary was introduced as the “Energy Secretary,” and her discussion quickly became political, talking about the “importance of electing progressive Democrats to help pass President Biden’s spending plan.”

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


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