The office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined Wednesday that Sebelius’ February 25th remarks did violate federal law.
Sebelius broke the law by making “extemporaneous partisan remarks” during a speech in February at a Human Rights Campaign Event in Charlotte, N.C., according to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). She made the comments in the city that would later host the Democratic National Convention.
“One of the imperatives is to make sure that we not only come together here in Charlotte to present the nomination to the president, but we make sure that in November, he continues to be president for another four years,” Sebelius said, according to the agency and reported first by The Hill newspaper.
The agency said Sebelius’ comments violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits public officials from campaigning in an official capacity.
The agency said the Department of Health and Human Services after the event reclassified the trip from official to political and that the federal government was reimbursed for related costs.
The Federal Times also points out that OSC’s report includes the fact that Sebelius went on to say, “It’s hugely important to make sure that we re-elect the president and elect a Democratic governor here in North Carolina.”
Sebelius wrote of her regret for making the statements and immediately “converted my participation in the event from official to political… keeping the roles straight can be a difficult tasks, particularly on mixed trips that involve both campaign and official stops on the same day.”
While costs and expenses associated with the event were reimbursed, it is unclear what will happen to Sebelius.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), said that OSC’s findings “underscore the importance of laws prohibiting mixing official government business with partisan political activity.”
“The committee awaits President Obama’s decision,” Issa continued. “As he decides the appropriate consequences for Secretary Sebelius, the president should consider the important leadership role of cabinet secretaries and the example they must set for the entire Executive Branch.”
One doesn’t have to wonder what happens to an ordinary citizen who violates federal law, but for some reason it doesn’t quite work the same way for those in political positions. Barack Obama will determine the fate of Kathleen Sebelius in this matter. If she loses her job it will be his decision. However, when a Hatch violation happened in the Bush administration with General Services Administration head Lurita Doan, Bush fired her, but even then it was almost a full year after the report.