Administration promoted Cabinet member’s official trip on which she headlined Obama campaign fundraiser

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was on an official government trip promoted by the administration when she headlined an Obama re-election campaign fundraiser, records reveal.

The Department of Labor (DOL) promoted Solis’ trip to Los Angeles in March 2012 on which she appeared as a featured guest at a March 23 fundraiser aimed at Latino supporters with Obama campaign co-chair Eva Longoria and Obama Victory Fund supporters at La Fonda Supper Club on Wilshire Boulevard.

The federal Hatch Act prohibits Cabinet members like Solis, who resigned from the administration last year and is now running for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, from fundraising for political candidates and mixing official Cabinet duties with political activity.

“Last week, Secretary Solis toured the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator’s new office space as part of the Labor Department’s green jobs initiative to promote investment in green energy technologies and jobs,” according to a March 29, 2012 DOL newsletter obtained by The Daily Caller. Solis’ visit to the Cleantech Incubator’s office occurred on March 22, the day before she headlined the campaign fundraiser.

“Solis was joined by Los Angeles Community Impact founder Fred Walti, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti and managing partner of Craton Equity Partners Tom Soto to examine how the space will accelerate the development of local startups, offer CEO coaching and mentoring and provide access to a growing network of experts and capital,” according to the DOL newsletter.

Solis’ participation in the La Fonda Supper Club fundraiser became the focus of an FBI inquiry.

A Solis campaign adviser acknowledged that Solis met with the FBI in November 2012, two months before she stepped down as Labor Secretary in January 2013, but stonewalled as to whether Solis discussed the FBI inquiry with Obama. The adviser maintained that “it is inappropriate for a Cabinet official to [discuss] private communications with the President.”

By the time Solis left the Obama administration, she owed the Washington office of the Chicago-based law firm Sidley Austin between $50,001 and $100,000 for “legal advice” pertaining to the FBI inquiry, according to a Feb. 2013 financial disclosure.

DOL newsletters frequently touted Solis’ trips around the country during her tenure as Labor Secretary.

Solis took thousands of dollars of free trips on a union’s jet to “avoid freeway traffic” and did not report the trips as required by federal law, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against union leaders. The trips occurred in 2009, and some were intended to fly her to Washington, D.C. when she was being considered for the Obama cabinet post.

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