Special Counsel Informs Biden That Top Cabinet Official Violated Federal Law


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The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has found that one of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet members committed a violation of federal law by misusing his office.

Special Counsel Henry Kerner sent a letter informing him that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra violated the Hatch Act “by publicly expressing support for California Democrat Sen. Alex Padilla’s reelection while appearing in an official capacity as HHS secretary,” Fox News Digital reported on Tuesday.

“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 noted in the letter.

“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election,” Kerner noted further. “In delivering his speech, Secretary Becerra impermissibly mixed his personal electoral preference with official remarks.”

“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 wrote.

The special counsel added that 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.”

“Accordingly, I submit to you the enclosed report, together with Secretary Becerra’s response, for your consideration,” Kerner concluded in his letter.


In his response to the special counsel’s findings, Becerra said his comments were an “inadvertent violation” and added that he regretted making them. He noted as well that he “did not realize at the time that my off-the-cuff remarks” regarding his “personal voting intentions were in violation of the Hatch Act.”

“I now understand why they were not permitted,” Becerra noted in his statement, saying he received “additional counseling” via the HHS ethics department on the Hatch Act itself. The Biden official said he would “work hard to ensure that there are no future violations.”

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Fox News Digital noted that “Padilla first came to the Senate after Vice President Kamala Harris left the chamber to join the Biden administration.”

Becerra’s policies have faced criticism from Congressional Republicans, who questioned him last month regarding his department’s remote work policies. Despite multiple inquiries, Becerra declined to provide information on the proportion of his workforce continuing to telework over three years since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as numerous offices have resumed in-person operations, Fox News Digital noted.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., posed the question to Becerra multiple times during a budget hearing at the Senate Finance Committee regarding the number of HHS employees who are currently working remotely, but he got nowhere.

“This is a picture taken at 10:40 a.m. last Monday at HHS headquarters. It’s, like, empty,” Cassidy said, showing the secretary a photo of an empty lot. Cassidy later explained that it was the parking lot for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services HQ.

“Can you give a breakdown of how many full-time employees are at their desk in one of these buildings every day?” Cassidy asked.


“Senator, when you take a look at the workforce at HHS, and we’re close to 90,000 throughout the country and working in various parts of the country, some here at headquarters … by the way, headquarters —” Becerra began.

“I’ve got limited time,” Cassidy quickly interjected, according to Fox News. “So, tell me, of what percent of the employees are at their desk … on any given day?”

“Our folks are working full time,” Becerra said.

“No, but how many are at their desk as opposed to being at home or someplace else, a coffee shop or whatever?” Cassidy pressed on.

“What we make sure we care about is that they’re performing and they’re delivering,” Becerra responded evasively.

“That’s not really answering my question because I know the best practices now in many industries is to bring people back in. So, is it 5 percent, is it 10 percent, is it 1 percent? How many folks are actually sitting at their desk in a government building when they are working full time every day?” Cassidy asked.

“And we have folks who, as they’re working full time,” Becerra began again as Cassidy interrupted him once more.

“Clearly, sir, you don’t want to answer that question, and I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t, and that kind of begs that the answer may not be flattering,” Cassidy said.