Office of Special Counsel Says HHS Secretary Violated Hatch Act

( – Secretary Xaviert Beccerra of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) violated federal law according to the U.S Office of Special Councsel (OSC).

President Joe Biden received a letter from Special Counsel Henry Kerner saying that Becarra violated the Hatch Act when appearing in his official capacity as HHS Secretary and publicly expressed support for reelection of Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California.

“As explained in the accompanying report, OSC concluded that Secretary Becerra violated the Hatch Act by expressing support for Senator Alex Padilla’s reelection while speaking in his official capacity at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala on September 15, 2022,” Kerner wrote.

The letter also says, “While federal employees are permitted to express support for candidates when speaking in their personal capacity, the Hatch Act restricts employees from doing so when speaking as a government official.”

Becerra said in an official response to Special Counsel Kerner that he was given additional counsel from the HHS ethics department about the Hatch Act and he will strive to not violate it again with “off the cuff” remarks.

Becerra claimed the violation was inadvertent and didn’t realize that stating personal voting intentions, an endorsement of a particular candidate, were a violation of the Hatch Act. “I now understand why they were not permitted,” said Becerra in his response letter.

This isn’t the first time recently that Becerra has found himself in the hot seat. Republicans in Congress sought answers to his agency’s work from home policies more than three years after the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Becarra wouldn’t answer questions regarding the percentage of employees that still are working from home, and questions posed by Senator Bill Cassidy, R.-LA. of the Senate Finance committee got nowhere.

When asked by Senator Cassidy about how many people may actually be at the headquarters, or indeed sitting at desks and in an office, Becarra only said, “What we make sure we care about is that they’re performing and they’re delivering.”

“Clearly, sir, you don’t want to answer that question, and I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t, and that kind of begs that the answer may not be flattering,” Cassidy responds.

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