Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is under investigation for possibly violating the Hatch Act after her department promoted an interview she gave with Fox News during which she criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The investigation, conducted by the Office of the Special Counsel, focuses on a video posted on the department’s YouTube page that includes DeVos calling Biden’s changed stance on school choice “shameful.” DeVos is shown responding to Biden’s promise to rollback school choice policies if he is elected president in November.
DeVos is the latest high-profile Trump administration official to come under fire for a potential violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty.
The OSC found that 12 other senior officials within the administration violated the act, but the majority of cases were minor enough to only warrant a warning letter. On one occasion, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s violation was sent to President Trump, but he did not pursue any action.
Angela Morabito, an Education Department spokesperson, told Politico the complaint against DeVos was not rooted in fact and was only an allegation.
“The Secretary was asked to respond to oft-repeated criticism of her and her policies, and she defended her policies, including discussing the history of that criticism,” Morabito said. “The Hatch Act does not prohibit that kind of exchange with a journalist. Case closed. Of course, we will cooperate with OSC, should they choose to open an investigation of this frivolous complaint.”
The Washington Examiner also reached out to the Education Department for comment.
Zac Kurz, communications director for the OSC, told the Washington Examiner the office can’t comment on or confirm any specific open investigations regarding the Hatch Act, and once an investigation is completed, the findings are typically provided only to the parties involved.
However, Kurz added all Hatch Act complaints are typically all allegations until an investigation is completed, responding to the Education Department’s comments.
“In general, we consider all Hatch Act complaints filed with OSC to be allegations until we have completed an investigation, though not all complaints are investigated,” Kurz said. “We open a case file for each complaint, but if there is a lack of jurisdiction or the allegations do not warrant further investigation, we may close the file without opening an investigation.”
Tags: News, Education Department, Betsy DeVos, Trump administration, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, 2020 Elections, Office of Special Counsel, White House, School Choice
Original Author: Mica Soellner
Original Location: Betsy DeVos under investigation for possible Hatch Act violation