Biden’s White House press secretary violated rule against politics on the job, watchdog says

Office of Special Counsel says Karine Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act ahead of 2022 midterm elections.

By The Associated Press

Since taking on the role of White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre has become known for frequently dodging questions by citing the Hatch Act. The law bars civil servants from politicking during their day jobs, and Jean-Pierre uses it to deflect reporters’ questions involving campaigns.

But apparently she wasn’t careful enough. The Office of Special Counsel, a government agency that enforces the Hatch Act, said in a recent letter that Jean-Pierre violated the law before last year’s midterm elections.

Her offense: Making frequent references to “MAGA Republicans” during White House briefings.

According to a letter from the Office of Special Counsel, Jean-Pierre “made those references to generate opposition to Republican candidates” and “accordingly, making the references constituted political activity.”

The letter was posted online by The Washington Post. It was first reported by NBC News.

Penalties for Hatch Act violations are uncommon, and the office did not recommend any fines or other punishments for Jean-Pierre.

Violations were much more common under President Donald Trump. The Office of Special Counsel sent an “unprecedented” 15 warning letters to senior Trump administration officials about running afoul of the Hatch Act, and it even recommended the firing of top adviser Kellyanne Conway.

Read  UN team flees as Hamas fires on Biden’s Gaza 'pier'

Jean-Pierre faced scrutiny after a conservative organization called Protect the Public’s Trust filed a complaint.

The organization said Jean-Pierre was “disparaging President Biden’s political opponents as ‘mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the law.’”