White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Warned for Breaking Hatch Act

FEMA - Karine Jean-Pierre
AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has warned White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that her attacks on “MAGA Republicans” violate the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in partisan politics.

The warning was revealed in a letter published by the Washington Post on Tuesday from the Office of Special Counsel to Protect the Public’s Trust, an organization of former federal employees focused on ethics rules.

The letter reveals that the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative agency not related to the Special Counsel within the Department of Justice, decided not to take disciplinary action.

The letter states, in part:

Your complaint alleged that Ms. Jean‐Pierre used the phrase “mega MAGA Republican[s]” as part of “an inappropriate attempt to influence the vote.” In investigating the allegation, OSC discovered that Ms. Jean‐Pierre used the phrase “MAGA Republicans” repeatedly during official press briefings prior to the November 2022 midterm election. Although Ms. Jean‐Pierre never expressly instructed viewers to vote for or against Republican candidates for elected office, OSC concluded that the timing, frequency, and content of Ms. Jean‐Pierre’s references to “MAGA Republicans” established that she made those references to generate opposition to Republican candidates. Accordingly, making the references constituted political activity.

Because Ms. Jean‐Pierre made the statements while acting in her official capacity, she violated the Hatch Act prohibition against using her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election. Although we have concluded that Ms. Jean‐Pierre violated the Hatch Act, we have decided to close this matter without further action. We note, in particular, that the White House Counsel’s Office did not at the time believe that Ms. Jean‐Pierre’s remarks were prohibited by the Hatch Act, and it is unclear whether OSC’s contrary analysis regarding the use of “MAGA Republicans” was ever conveyed to Ms. Jean‐Pierre. We have advised Ms. Jean‐Pierre that should she again engage in prohibited political activity, OSC would consider it a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in OSC pursuing disciplinary action.

Jean-Pierre has repeatedly used the Hatch Act to avoid questions about the 2024 presidential election — even questions of a non-political nature, such as the president’s schedule for the campaign — while engaging in harsh attacks on Republicans that seem to violate the Act.

This reporter has pointed out her hypocrisy, frequently:

At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Jean-Pierre faced questions about the warning, but seemed to evade responsibility or contrition for her use of the phrase “MAGA Republicans.” She suggested that the White House counsel’s office took a different view of her rhetoric than the Special Counsel. She added that she has not yet been directed to receive any remedial training about how to abide by the Hatch Act in her official statements.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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