In 1939, the Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities was passed by Congress and became federal law. The act prohibits federal employees from being involved or holding membership in any political organization which advocates the overthrow of the constitutional form of government. (Say, isn’t that what the Democratic Party has been doing with the help of Barack Obama and Eric Holder?)
The main aspect of the Act, later called the Hatch Act after New Mexico Senator Carl Hatch, is to prohibit federal civil servant employees in the executive branch from taking part in partisan political activity. It also forbids them participating in political campaign activities and from intimidating or bribing voters. They are also not allowed to use public funds for political campaign purposes.
The Hatch Act also covers all Presidential appointees including the Secretary of State and other cabinet positions. This could be part of the reason that Hillary Clinton was outside the country during the Democratic National Convention.
As a rule most violators of the Hatch Act are instantly terminated. In lieu of the fact that President Barack Obama’s declaration of establishing the toughest ethics laws and transparency of his administration, you would expect him to keep to the normal procedure for those in his executive branch who violate the Hatch Act, but that does not seem to be the case.
Back in February, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human services, attended a taxpayer funded campaign event in North Carolina. While participating in the event, Sebelius publicly endorsed Obama’s bid for re-election along with Walter Dalton’s bid for re-election as Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina.
According to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, (OSC), Sebelius violated the Hatch Act on more than one account. The OSC also states that an:
“Employee who violates the Hatch Act shall be removed from their position, and funds appropriated for the position from which removed thereafter may not be used to pay the employee or individual.”
There is a provision that offers an alternative to termination for violations of the Hatch Act. Those federal employees that aren’t appointed to their position by the president or approved by the Senate can be given a punishment that allows them to retain their position if:
“The Merit Systems Protection Board finds by unanimous vote that the violation does not warrant removal, a penalty of not less than a 30-day suspension without pay shall be imposed by direction of the board.”
But, Sebelius is a presidential appointee that was confirmed by the Senate, so she is not eligible for review by the Merit Systems Protection Board. President Obama has been informed by Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner that Secretary Sebelius:
“Violated the Hatch Act by making extemporaneous political remarks in a speech delivered in her official capacity.”
“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election. A federal employee is permitted to make partisan remarks when speaking in their personal capacity, but not when using an official title or when speaking about agency business.”
“Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services reimbursed the U.S. government for all costs and expenses associated with her travel to the February 25, 2012, event. HHS subsequently reclassified the trip from official to political and issued a statement to that effect. OSC found no evidence that Secretary Sebelius made any other political statements in her official capacity.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) told The Daily Caller:
“This is exactly why they did the Hatch Act — so you wouldn’t have unions running the government and secretaries weren’t forcing politics on employees. Here you have the most pro-union administration allowing someone to do exactly that. For an administration that claims to be pro-workers — and that’s why the Hatch Act was written, to be protect workers. But hey, what do you expect? This is not surprising. They finally let themselves get caught doing it.”
“I mean, clearly the unions have made it their life’s work to re-elect this president. It sends a very chilling message: If you’re a federal worker, you’re now also an employee of the campaign, perhaps, rather than just an employee of the federal government.”
According to Dan Epstein, President of the Cause of Action watchdog organization:
“Thus the point is that by close of business on Sept. 12, 2012, the president has been informed of a Hatch Act violation and yet has decided not to fire Sebelius. The president has therefore decided to overlook the improper political activities of his appointees when in their official capacities. He has effectively said it is okay to politicize the executive branch.”
Personally, I believe that Sebelius is too important to his healthcare plan and to the contraceptive mandate to terminate her. Nor can he afford to have her suspended for 30 days with all of the court challenges to the health care program and contraception mandate.
So, will President Obama keep his word about strict ethical laws and a transparent administration or will he do his best to ignore the situation and hope it goes away?