White House finally gets question about Sebelius in briefing

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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White House press secretary Jay Carney finally got a question about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a week after she was found in violation of the federal law prohibiting her from engaging in political activity while on the job.

Jake Tapper of ABC News asked Carney about President Obama’s response to the report during Wednesday’s briefing.

The question came up after the Daily Caller reported on Tuesday that no questions were asked during official White House briefings or gaggles about Sebelius since Sept. 12, when the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said in a report that the cabinet secretary violated the Hatch Act earlier this year.

“I have not spoken to him about it,” Carney said. “I think that Secretary Sebelius has responded to that. “

Carney said Sebelius’ remarks were “extemporaneous” and “the Health and Human services department has since classified the event to meet the correct standard, the US treasury has been reimbursed and Sec. Sebelius has met with ethics experts to ensure that this never happens again.”

“The error was immediately acknowledged by the secretary, promptly corrected and no taxpayer dollars were misused,” he said.

There’s precedent for people found in violation of the law to be fired. But Carney suggested that won’t happen to Sebelius.

Asked by Tapper if that’s the end of the matter, he said: “I think it’s safe to assume that action has been taken by the secretary and department to remedy what was the result of an inadvertent error based on extemporaneous remarks.”

The ethics office said Sebelius violated the law on Feb. 25 while delivering a speech to Human Rights Campaign while serving in her official capacity as cabinet secretary. In her speech, she called for Obama’s re-election, and the election of the Democratic candidate for governor in North Carolina.

The Hatch Act prohibits certain civil servants in the federal government from engaging in political activity on the job.

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