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Watchdog agency says White House press secretary violated Hatch Act

The Office of Special Counsel said Karine Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act. Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta

Watchdog agency says White House press secretary violated Hatch Act

The Office of Special Counsel last week issued a warning letter against White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for violating the law ahead of the 2022 midterm election. The agency said she violated the Hatch Act when she used the term “MAGA Republicans” during multiple White House briefings. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in politics at work. Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that at the time, she was “given the sign-off to use that terminology,” but the White House is taking the letter seriously.

Have other officials been accused of violating the act? Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra last year violated the act when he expressed support for a California senator’s reelection. At least 13 senior Trump administration officials violated the act before the 2020 presidential election, according to a report from the agency. Officials who violate the law may lose their jobs or face civil penalties, but they are not at risk of criminal charges.

Dig deeper: From the archives, read Harvest Prude’s report in The Sift about the agency’s call to remove White House counselor Kellyanne Conway over Hatch Act violations in 2019.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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