White House Sued Over Possible Hatch Act Violations

Judicial Watch seeking records on Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina investigations


A watchdog group is suing the Obama administration for records on an investigation into possible Hatch Act violations by former White House staff members Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina. 

Judicial Watch announced Thursday it has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for records on its investigation into former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, whom the watchdog group alleges used their positions as high-level administration officials in 2009 to affect federal elections.

The Hatch Act states that an employee may not “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”  

Judicial Watch alleges that Emanuel was involved in offering Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) several executive branch positions if he declined to challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.) in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Democratic primary.

memo authored by White House Counsel Robert Bauer said that “efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary.”

The Associated Press reported that Messina called Andrew Romanoff in 2009 and floated several positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development that he could possibly be appointed to, if he decided not to run in Colorado’s 2010 Democratic primary.

Judicial Watch filed a Hatch Act complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, but the office closed the investigations because Emanuel and Messina left office, even though the complaint was filed three and seven months before the two departed, respectively.

A spokesman for the OSC pointed to the office’s enforcement of the
Hatch act over the Obama administration.

“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, we’d encourage all
interested parties to review OSC’s Hatch Act enforcement record over
the last two and half years. This enforcement record includes finding
a sitting cabinet secretary in violation of the Hatch Act for the
first time in the Act’s 75-year history.”

The OSC previously found Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius guilty of Hatch Act violations.“It is shameful that the Office of Special Counsel, which is supposed to enforce corruption and transparency laws, is covering up this Obama bribery scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is corrupt and illegal to offer federal jobs to help political campaigns as the Obama White House did (with the help of the ethically-challenged Bill Clinton).”

Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago, and Messina is the head of the Obama White House-allied Organizing for America.


CJ Ciaramella   Email CJ | Full Bio | RSS
CJ Ciaramella is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was a reporter for the Daily Caller. He was also a Collegiate Network year-long fellow at the San Diego Union-Tribune and has written articles for the Weekly Standard and Oregon Quarterly. Ciaramella attended the University of Oregon, where he edited the award-winning student magazine, the Oregon Commentator. He lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @cjciaramella. His email address is ciaramella@freebeacon.com.

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