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Office of Special Counsel: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law

By Doug Powers  •  September 13, 2012 11:13 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is trying to grant herself a waiver from a law. Fortunately for her she has a lot of experience at that.

From The Hill:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law by using her Cabinet position to campaign for President Obama, federal investigators said Wednesday.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said Sebelius broke federal law by saying in a February speech that it is “imperative” to reelect President Obama. She also used the speech, delivered at a Human Rights Campaign event in Charlotte, N.C., to plug local Democrats.

The OSC said Sebelius violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from campaigning while acting in an official capacity.

Democrats claim that Sebelius shouldn’t have been found in violation of the Hatch Act because the appearance was re-purposed as a political event and paid for by Democrat campaign funds after the fact:

In a seven-paragraph email to the special counsel’s office, Sebelius concluded that “I regret making statements that converted my participation in the event from official to political. As I have also explained, keeping the roles straight can be a difficult task, particularly on mixed trips that involve both campaign and official stops on the same day. Since this incident, I have met with the ethics attorneys at the Department to ensure that I have an accurate understanding of what types of statements are prohibited at an official event.”

In her letter, Sebelius took issue with the special counsel pursuing the “minor” issue to this point, rather than considering it rectified when the trip was reclassified and expense repaid.

Sebelius is trying to get an exemption from the Hatch Act because she didn’t understand what was and wasn’t legal activity for a US Cabinet member? Ignorantia juris non excusat, Madam Secretary.

You wouldn’t have expected any administration trying to prove themselves worthy of the self-applied “highest ethical standards in history” label to do an after-the-fact end-around in an attempt to skirt a federal law violation, but it appears that’s what happened. In simple terms, this defense style is like claiming you didn’t break the law when you robbed the bank because you gave the money back the next day.

We’ll see where this goes… if anywhere. Don’t hold your breath.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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