According to the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge violated the Hatch Act in March while discussing the 2022 Senate race in Ohio.
The Hatch Act forbids federal employees from engaging in political activities.
During a March White House briefing on the upcoming Ohio Senate race, Fudge mentioned that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley were considering running and said, “They’re both close friends. I believe we have a good chance. I’m aware that many people have written off Ohio. I haven’t given up on Ohio. I believe we have a good chance of winning the Senate race “Politico broke the story.
Earlier, she declined to answer a reporter’s question about who she thought should fill the state’s open congressional seat.
According to Politico, Fudge’s violation appears to be the first for the Biden administration. Americans for Public Trust, a conservative watchdog group, filed a complaint about her comments, requesting an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel.
Fudge issued a statement the day after she weighed in on the Senate race, admitting she should not have answered the question. “I take these things seriously and I want to assure the American people that I am focused on meeting the needs of our country,” she told Politico.
According to Politico, Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of OSC’s Hatch Act unit, said in a letter to Americans for Public Trust that the agency had issued a warning to Fudge, counseled her about the violation, and had closed the matter because she showed remorse for her statement saying she shouldn’t have weighed in.
“Please note that Secretary Fudge has been advised that if in the future she engages in prohibited political activity we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law that could result in further action,” Galindo-Marrone wrote.
Several Trump administration officials, including former senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and former trade adviser Peter Navarro, violated the act during his tenure. There were no serious repercussions for Trump officials.