EXCLUSIVE: Biden White House, Small Business Admin Officials Violated Political Ethics Law, Watchdog Alleges

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Officials in President Joe Biden’s White House and Small Business Administration (SBA) violated a law preventing government employees from engaging in certain forms of political activity, watchdog Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) alleged in a Thursday complaint.

PPT accused officials of political activity to benefit Biden while attacking Republicans in violation of the Hatch Act, according to the complaint to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Biden administration officials from the White House and SBA repeatedly violated the act by using the term “MAGA,” which is former President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan and an acronym for “Make America Great Again,” PPT alleged (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Isabel Guzman Was Scheduled To Attend 17 ‘Equity’ Meetings In Less Than One Year)

“The intent of the Hatch Act is pretty straightforward: If you’re part of the current government, you can’t engage in political speech in the course of your official duties,” PPT Director Michael Chamberlain told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “And OSC’s directives against using campaign slogans are pretty clear. But, as Karine Jean-Pierre’s multiple violations show — and these incidents from the White House and SBA appear to provide more evidence of — it seems that these requirements escape some members of the Biden administration.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation exclusively obtained the complaint as well as over 2,300 pages of emails PPT received from a public records request to the SBA.

Federal employees are prohibited from using their “e-mail account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group,” according to a guide posted by the office in 2014. They are also barred from sending or forwarding “partisan political emails to others while on duty or in the workplace,” according to the OSC.

However, White House Senior Communications Assistant Brianna Stonick in January 2023 sent an email titled “Talking Points: House Republican MAGA Economic Plan” to four other White House employees. The email contained talking points and a fact sheet, both of which have been completely redacted.

A group of SBA employees appears to have received the emails, as the agency’s communications director Terrence Clark forwarded it to the address “talkers@sba.gov,” according to the documents.

Stonick also in March sent an email titled “Talking Points: President Biden’s Veto of Extreme MAGA Republican Bill,” in which the talking points have also been redacted. An SBA official named Christina Hale appears to have forwarded this email to an address labeled “ICG.” PPT alleged this address belongs to SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman as the letters represent her full initials, with her middle name being “Casillas.”

The SBA has not responded to PPT’s inquiry about the redactions as of Wednesday, according to the complaint.

Associate SBA Administrator Mark Madrid forwarded an email in March 2023 to two colleagues to request that they print out three copies of an email from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs titled “What They Are Reading in the States: Biden-Harris Administration is Investing in America; Local Communities Reap Benefits.”

The email contains a passage detailing “what’s at stake if MAGA Republicans in Congress get their way and repeal the Inflation Reduction Act and slash funding for manufacturing, research, and innovation.”

PPT alleged that this is a clear use of a political campaign slogan to advocate for one candidate while criticizing the party opposing him.

“The American public expects their tax dollars will not be used for politicking and that the officials who serve them in government won’t be using their positions to engage in partisan electioneering,” Chamberlain told the DCNF. “Unfortunately, those seem to be hard lessons for too many executive branch inhabitants to learn.”

Officials sent these emails months before the OSC issued a June advisory opinion directing federal employees not to use campaign slogans in their official capacity, including “MAGA.”

“Employees may not, for example, wear or display items, or post or tweet messages with campaign slogans, including ‘Build Back Better,’ ‘Finish the Job,’ ‘Make America Great Again,’ or ‘MAGA’ while they are on duty or in the workplace,” the opinion states.

However, a December 2022 advisory opinion after Trump announced his candidacy in November of that year also appears to suggest that federal employees should not use “MAGA” in emails for or against the former president.

“This prohibition is broad and encompasses more than displays or communications (including in-person and via email or social media) that expressly advocate for or against former President Trump’s election,” it states. “For example, while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again,’ ‘MAGA,’ or any other materials from former President Trump’s 2016, 2020, or 2024 campaigns or use hashtags such as #MAGA or #Trump2024 in social media posts or other forums.”

The documents and PPT’s complaint contain numerous additional examples of officials using the term “MAGA.”

Penalties for violating the Hatch Act can consist of “removal from federal service” and a fine of up to $1,000, according to the OSC. PPT’s complaint requests an immediate investigation as well as penalties for the aforementioned officials.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre previously violated the Hatch Act by making derogatory comments about Republicans during official press briefings by using the phrase “MAGA Republicans” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, the OSC found in June.

The White House, SBA and OSC did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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