Sunday, September 16, 2012
Where's the accountability?
Wednesday, the OSC released a [PDF format warning] a judgment, "The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent findings to the President today from its investigation of complaints of prohibited political activity by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. OSC concluded that Secretary Sebelius violated the Hatch Act when she made extemporaneous partisan remarks in a speech delivered in her official capacity on February 25, 2012. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election."
That should have been "end of story" on the events themselves.
But Jake Tapper (ABC News) reports Sebelius dug her hole even deeper:
In a letter to [OSC head Carolyn] Lerner, Sebelius seemed to take issue with the some of the report, noting that she reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for related expenses. It “seems somewhat unfair to conclude that, as a result of my off-hand statements, I used my official title for political purposes,” she wrote, saying “the violation was technical and minor. These are not the type of violations that the Hatch Act is intended to address.”
Sebelius said she told the USC investigators that while she regretted making the statements that converted my participation in the event from official to political…keeping the roles straight can be a difficult task, particularly on mixed trips that involved both campaign and official stops on the same day."
If Sebelius finds it difficult to keep her "roles straight," the easiest way to fix that problem is to fire her. She broke the law. As Tim Funk (McClatchy Newspapers) reported of the 2007 violation of the Hatch Act, "In that last case, General Services Administrator Lurita Doan was fired by President George W. Bush."
She should be fired. She clearly violated the Hatch Act, she now expresses confusion in her roles, she's not up to the job. CNN quotes from the letter she wrote to Lerner, "I believe that you should have concluded that any violation was corrected when the event was reclassified as political. I believe that you should have concluded that the consequence of my going 'off script' at an official event was to change the nature of my appearance for cost reimbursement purposes only." She didn't pay, she didn't reimburse. After the press raised serious concerns about her remarks, Sebelius got the Democratic National Comittee to pay for her trip retroactively. She didn't even pay her own travel cost when the heat was turned up but instead, in an act of supreme cheapness, got the DNC to pay for her.
She needs to be fired.