Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told The Daily Caller that a speech made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in her official capacity as a cabinet member to support President Obama’s re-election was an “egregious violation” of federal law that Obama needs to “make right.”
“Well, can you imagine if it was a Republican head of HHS what would be happening to the person? All I can say is I don’t wish her any harm nor do I want to get involved in that, that’s strictly a matter for the president to decide but it was not a good thing, I’ll put it that way,” Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, told TheDC after speaking at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
A report issued by the U.S. Office of Special Council found that Sebelius violated the Hatch Act by calling for Obama’s re-election at a Human Rights Campaign political event on February 25. She also endorsed a Democratic candidate for governor, Walter Dalton, in North Carolina. The Associated Press reports that she later withdrew the official endorsement.
Under the Hatch Act, members of the executive branch cannot use their “official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the results of an election or nomination.”
When asked if Congress should get involved in the matter, Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Obama must address the situation.
“I think it’s up to the president to make this right and I’m not about to give the president any advice on the matter. It was an egregious violation of the Hatch Act – by the way that was another Hatch who put that bill through not me and you know, I personally like the secretary but it should not have happened,” Hatch told TheDC.
According to the U.S. Office of the Special Council, “if the Merit Systems Protection Board (“Board”) finds that an employee violated the Hatch Act and that the violation warrants dismissal from employment, the employing agency must either remove the employee or forfeit a portion of its federal assistance equal to two years salary of the employee.”