Appearance at campaign event in Virginia alleged to have crossed the line
Today, Protect the Public’s Trust filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel alleging that statements made by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. § 7323). Granholm’s remarks occurred during her appearance at a campaign event for a candidate for Virginia governor.
At the event in Fairfax, Virginia, Granholm reportedly highlighted recent actions taken in her official capacity as Energy Secretary and referred to “my boss,” President Biden, while campaigning for Democratic candidate for Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. Federal officials are prohibited from appearing in their official capacities and from using their titles or federal government resources to campaign for candidates. This is not the first instance of a high-ranking administration official appearing to run afoul of the Hatch Act with respect to the Virginia governor’s race. Less than two weeks ago, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s comments from the podium spurred a complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Nor is this the first such complaint related to statements made by Granholm, who was the subject of a Hatch Act complaint last week.
“Across Administrations from Julian Castro to Kellyanne Conway to Jen Psaki and now Jennifer Granholm, this type of behavior is problematic,” stated Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “In what appears to be a pattern for Secretary Granholm, it seems she was at an official event and went so far as to reference her duties at DOE in that event to bolster her endorsement of Candidate McAuliffe. Public service is a public trust and appearances matter. PPT is filing a Hatch Act complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. All Americans should expect a vigorous investigation.”