Philadelphia partner Scott Coffina was quoted in Politico in two articles on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The first article, titled, “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Violated Hatch Act, OSC Concludes,” discussed Sibelius’ engagement in political activity during an official appearance at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala in North Carolina this past February.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found she made the political remarks in her capacity as a federal employee and thus violated the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from participating in partisan political activities.
“This particular type of violation, where you have a Cabinet secretary speaking at an event, is pretty uncommon,” said Scott.
He added that there are “a lot of very garden-variety violations,” citing federal employees who forward political emails or put up campaign photos.
The second article, titled, “Ethics Experts: Yes, Citizen Sebelius can visit Ryan’s District,” discussed the Secretary’s recent visit to Paul Ryan’s district on behalf of President Barack Obama’s reelection bid. After her Hatch Act violation, Sibelius was careful to emphasize that the campaign paid for the trip, not the government, and campaign officials said she was just there as a supporter, not as HHS secretary.
While there is no Hatch Act restriction in engaging in partisan politics if no federal funds are used, Scott described the visit as “somewhat unseemly in a sense that she’s already been nailed” for a Hatch Act violation.
“She does have an extra burden to make sure she is very careful about how she goes about speaking at these things because she has this violation over her head,” he said. “It just shines a light on the violation that has not been addressed. But there’s no legal restriction on her doing so.”
To read the first article, click here.
To read the second article, click here.