Politics

Office Of Special Counsel Says Biden Administration Official Committed Ethics Violation

Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated a federal ethics law when she praised the Democratic Party in a live interview.

Granholm violated the Hatch Act of 1939, which prohibits federal employees from participating in political speech or campaigning activities, when she was interviewed for a Marie Claire Instagram Live video on Oct. 6, 2021, according to the OSC report.

Because Granholm was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she must adhere to the Hatch Act, which limits her political speech while serving in her official capacity, the OSC stated. (RELATED: ‘Tough Summer’: Energy Sec. Makes Bleak Forecast, Signals Concern About Gas)

“OSC has concluded that Secretary Granholm engaged in political activity when she gave this response promoting the electoral success of the Democratic Party. Specifically, when asked what viewers could do to ensure that certain legislation gets passed, Secretary Granholm began her answer by commenting that Democrats now have a majority in the House and the Senate, which is ‘good news,'” the OSC continued.

Granholm praised the Democratic Party’s “bare majority” in her Marie Claire interview after previously answering questions “related to her official position as the head of the Department of Energy,” the OSC reported.

“The good news is that that marching and that voting gave Democrats a bare majority, but a majority, in the House in the Senate,” Granholm told Marie Claire’s audience, according to the OSC report. “And again, I am using Democrats as a substitute for the policies that you believe in, the policies that you would like to see happen. And what I say to people all the time is the most important thing you can do is make your voice heard. Vote!”

The OSC found that Granholm also instructed the audience to vote for Democratic candidates because they would pass legislation that the audience would support.

Despite the OSC finding that Granholm violated the federal employee ethics law, the agency advised against Granholm being punished.

“With respect to the Marie Claire interview, OSC has concluded that Secretary Granholm violated the Hatch Act,” OSC stated. “However, we are not recommending disciplinary action and have issued her a warning letter.”

The OSC found that Granholm’s violation was due to her not receiving enough training about preventing Hatch Act violations while serving as the U.S. Secretary of Energy, the report stated.

“The Office of Special Counsel has advised the Secretary of a single unintended and unknowing infraction and this complaint is now closed,” said the U.S. Department of Energy, according to Reuters. “Secretary Granholm takes her ethics obligations seriously.”