Ethics Office: Sebelius Broke Campaign Law

Thursday, 13 Sep 2012 09:02 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated a federal law that restricts political activity by government officials, a federal ethics office said in a report Wednesday.

Off-the-cuff remarks by Sebelius during a speech earlier this year to a gay rights group in North Carolina violated the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said in a report to the White House. The law prohibits federal employees from using their official authority to influence an election, although it allows partisan remarks made in a personal capacity.

In the Feb. 25 speech to the Human Rights Campaign, Sebelius called for President Barack Obama's re-election and endorsed a Democratic candidate Walter Dalton for governor. Later, she rescinded the gubernatorial endorsement.

The ethics office found that Sebelius had made the speech in her official capacity as the nation's top health official, but departed from her prepared text and veered into politicking.

"While a violation of the Hatch Act occurred, Secretary Sebelius' statements would have been permissible if they had been made in her personal capacity," the report said.

In a formal response, Sebelius said that any violation was "technical and minor" and was corrected after her official trip was reclassified as political, and the government was repaid for her travel.

"It seems somewhat unfair to conclude that, as a result of my offhand statements, I used my official title for political purposes," Sebelius wrote.

The Democratic National Committee reimbursed the government $2,514.50 for the portion of the trip that was deemed political, said Ann O'Hanlon, a spokeswoman for the ethics office. That amount covered expenses for Sebelius and an aide, and was approved by the ethics office. An aide to Sebelius said the secretary flew on a commercial airline.

Since Sebelius is a Cabinet official, the ethics office referred the case to the White House for "appropriate action." It made no recommendation as to what that should be.

Although Hatch Act violations can be a firing offense for federal employees, it appeared unlikely that Sebelius would be disciplined.

"These were extemporaneous remarks ... the U.S. Treasury has been reimbursed, and Secretary Sebelius has met with ethics experts to ensure this never happens again," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Send me more news as it happens.
 
 
Get me on The Wire
Send me more news as it happens.
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Country
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
You May Also Like

Michael Hanline Freed After 1980 Murder Conviction Overturned

Tuesday, 25 Nov 2014 15:34 PM

Michael Hanline, who was convicted of murder in 1980, was released on bail Monday after prosecutors said they are no lon . . .

Houston Dog Stuck in Jug for Weeks Rescued, Finds a New Home (Video)

Tuesday, 25 Nov 2014 14:37 PM

A family near Houston saved a 5-month-old dog that was stuck in a jug after trying for weeks to catch the stray. . . .

Heidi Montag, She of 10 Plastic Surgeries in a Day, Says No More

Tuesday, 25 Nov 2014 12:46 PM

Heidi Montag, the former reality star of "The Hills" who once had 10 plastic surgeries in a day, is promising no more su . . .

Top Stories

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved