White House Chief of Staff Violated Hatch Act, Watchdog Finds

White House Chief of Staff Violated Hatch Act, Watchdog Finds
White House chief of staff Ronald Klain in Washington on June 30, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

White House chief of staff Ronald Klain violated a law that restricts the political activities of federal workers, a watchdog found.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) concluded that Klain broke the Hatch Act when he shared a post on Twitter from a partisan political action committee (PAC).

Klain shared a post from the Strike PAC cheering how a government effort called Operation Fly Formula led to the delivery of infant formula amid shortages in some states. The message also include a link to the committee’s online store and an image of its “Democrats Deliver” shirt.

The Strike PAC says on its website that its goal is to elect Democrats, in part by enacting a “nationalized strategy” of “tell[ing] stories how Democrats deliver on their promises to improve the lives of voters.”

“In this vein, Strike PAC’s message thanking President Biden served to further the group’s nationalized strategy of promoting Democrats as the party that delivers on its promises to voters. By retweeting this message, Mr. Klain used his official Twitter account to promote a partisan political group’s interests and, therefore, OSC has concluded that he violated the Hatch Act’s use of official authority prohibition,” said Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the OSC’s Hatch Act Unit.

She was writing on Oct. 26 to the America First Legal Foundation, a group formed by former Trump administration officials.

The foundation raised concerns about Klain’s sharing of the political action committee message in June, asserting that it violated the OSC’s guidance on the Hatch Act, which states in part that executive branch officials “may not use a social media account designated for official purposes to post or share messages directed at the success or failure of a political party, candidate in a partisan race, or partisan political group.”

The OSC decided not to pursue disciplinary action because he “promptly removed” the share, or retweet, of the post after being informed of the complaint, Galindo-Marrone said.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Klain wasn’t asked about the infraction during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Oct. 27.

Klain did, however, reference the act when answering a question about whether the White House has been surprised that Democrats in some traditionally blue states, such as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, have been struggling in polls.

“I do need to be careful here, I’m covered by the Hatch Act. I can’t be a political prognosticator,” he said.

Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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