(DCWatchdog.com) – President Joe Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Xavier Becerra, broke the law by advocating for the reelection of a state senator in California, a US government watchdog has concluded.
More specifically, Biden’s top health official violated the Hatch Act, which bans civil servants in the US executive from engaging in certain political activities, according to a report by the US Office of Special Counsel.
Becerra committed the legal violation last year when he expressed support for the election of Alex Padilla, an appointed Democrat state senator in California, the watchdog said, as cited by The Daily Caller.
More specifically, during a speech in his official capacity before at a dinner of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in September 2022, Biden’s health secretary stated he intended to vote for Padilla.
According to the US Office of Special Counsel, Becerra “mixed his personal electoral preference with official remarks.”
Special Counsel Henry Kerner outlined the watchdog’s conclusion in a letter to President Joe Biden.
“As explained in the accompanying report, OSC concluded that Secretary Becerra violated the Hatch Act by expressing support for Senator Alex Padilla’s reelection while speaking in his official capacity at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala on September 15, 2022,” Kerner explained in the letter.
“In delivering his speech, Secretary Becerra impermissibly mixed his personal electoral preference with official remarks,” the letter pointed out.
“While federal employees are permitted to express support for candidates when speaking in their personal capacity, the Hatch Act restricts employees from doing so when speaking as a government official,” Kerner added.
“With a presidential election approaching next year, this report offers an opportunity to deter violations by reminding federal employees at all levels of the Hatch Act’s restrictions,” he emphasized.
Biden’s health secretary has expressed regrets about breaking the Hatch Act in what he described as an “inadvertent violation.”
“While I did not realize at the time that my off-the-cuff remarks concerning my personal voting intentions were in violation of the Hatch Act, I now understand why they were not permitted,” Becerra said in a statement quoted by The Washington Post.
The White House did not react immediately to the conclusions of the Office of the Special Counsel, which is an independent agency that cannot enforce its recommendations.
In previous cases, the watchdog called out Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for a magazine interview comments last year.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra just violated the Hatch Act https://t.co/HVLRQoP2pP
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 18, 2023