Politico: White House Cleared of Violating Hatch Act

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 09:31 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The White House’s political affairs office has been cleared by a federal watchdog of violating the Hatch Act, which bars political activity by executive branch employees, according to Politico.

U.S. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in a letter the Obama administration’s White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach (OPSO) "appears to be operating" within the law.

Lerner, whose department enforces the Hatch Act, sent the letter Thursday to Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

The overview from Lerner was revealed as the committee’s chairman, Darell Issa, was due to hold a hearing on Friday to investigate the political activities of the Obama administration. The California Republican has alleged that OPSO has acted as kind of a campaign arm for Democrats, Politico said.

Issa has issued a subpoena for the office’s executive director, David Simas, to attend the hearing, but the political news website said he would not be there.

The White House has claimed Simas has immunity from testifying, and told the committee that it was treating Simas differently than previous heads of the political affairs office.

In a letter to White House Counsel Neil Eggleston, Issa said he would postpone Friday’s hearing if Simas agreed to a deposition. But if the hearing goes ahead as planned and Simas fails to show up, the committee intends to vote on a resolution rejecting the White House’s claim of immunity for some executive branch staffers, Politico reported.

Lerner was not scheduled to testify at Friday’s hearing

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