Top Biden Administration Official Violated Federal Law: Special Counsel

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A member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet violated a federal law when he endorsed Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), according to a new watchdog report.

Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, formerly California’s attorney general, violated a law called the Hatch Act on Sept. 15, 2022, the Office of Special Counsel stated on April 18.

Becerra, appointed by Biden, was speaking in his official capacity at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala when he expressed support for Padilla’s reelection bid, according to the watchdog.

The Hatch Act bars individuals in executive agencies from using their official authority or influence “for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

Becerra was clearly acting in his official capacity when he attended the gala, the special counsel said. Evidence includes his prepared remarks’ being reviewed by an attorney in the Department of Health and Human Services Ethics Division, his being introduced with his official title, and his discussing in his speech the work of the Biden administration.

“Because he was acting in his official capacity at the event, the Hatch Act prohibited Secretary Becerra from promoting or opposing candidates for partisan political office, like Senator Padilla,” the watchdog stated.

But Becerra not only said he was proud to have Padilla representing him as a California resident, but also said he would be voting for Padilla in the then-upcoming election.

‘Should Have Known’

Becerra “should have known” that what he did was prohibited because he has undergone “comprehensive training” on the Hatch Act, including viewing a presentation from White House lawyers just three months before the gala, the Office of Special Counsel stated.

The materials in the training included the statement that “political remarks must be distinct from official remarks.”

Attendees were warned that they “may not encourage support for a candidate for a candidate or remind attendees to vote for a particular candidate or group in an election” or “discuss candidates, elections, or partisan groups.”

Becerra could have also accessed information about the Hatch Act before the gala, the watchdog stated.

“His statement was so obviously concerning that a member of his own staff, present at the Gala, gasped and said, ‘No, no, you can’t say that’ immediately after hearing it,” it stated.

By Zachary Stieber

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