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Karine Jean-Pierre violated Hatch Act, says watchdog group: 'An inappropriate attempt to influence the vote'
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Karine Jean-Pierre violated Hatch Act, says watchdog group: 'An inappropriate attempt to influence the vote'

A government watchdog found that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, NBC News reported.

In a Wednesday letter obtained by the network, the Office of Special Counsel accused the press secretary of violating a law prohibiting federal employees from using their official capacity to influence elections.

According to the group, Jean-Pierre broke the policy when she made disparaging comments about conservatives, including repeatedly referring to them as "mega MAGA Republicans" during press briefings.

Ana Galindo-Marrone, the head of the government watchdog's Hatch Act Unit, wrote in last week's letter, "Because Ms. Jean‐Pierre made the statements while acting in her official capacity, she violated the Hatch Act prohibition against using her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election."

The letter quoted an instance when Jean-Pierre said, "Mega MAGA Republican officials who don't believe in the rule of law," during a White House press briefing on November 2.

Protect the Public's Trust, a conservative watchdog group, filed a complaint against the press secretary for the November comments, referring to the remarks as "an inappropriate attempt to influence the vote."

While the Office of Special Counsel agreed that Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act, the group "decided to close this matter without further action."

"We have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and have instead issued Ms. Jean‐Pierre a warning letter," Galindo-Marrone told Protect the Public's Trust. "It is unclear whether OSC's contrary analysis regarding the use of 'MAGA Republicans' was ever conveyed to Ms. Jean‐Pierre."

Jean-Pierre frequently cites the Hatch Act to avoid answering questions from members of the press regarding President Biden's re-election campaign.

A White House spokesperson, Andrew Bates, stated, "As has been made clear throughout the administration, we take the law seriously and uphold the Hatch Act. We are reviewing this opinion."

Additionally, a Biden administration official claimed that Republicans had often used "MAGA" and "Make America Great Again" for official purposes during the Trump administration outside campaigning.

Michael Chamberlain, former Trump administration official and head of Protect the Public's Trust, slammed the government watchdog's decision not to take disciplinary action against the press secretary.

"This episode illustrates exactly what people hate about Washington, D.C., and why they increasingly distrust the Biden administration's promises to be the most ethical in history," Chamberlain stated. "The Hatch Act was a law used to pillory previous administrations, but officials now appear content to sweep it under the rug."

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