The U.S. Office of Special Counsel filed a Hatch Act violation against a federal immigration judge for voicing her support for Hillary Clinton and denouncing Republicans from the bench.
The independent prosecutorial office recommended disciplinary action against Carmene "Zsa Zsa" DePaolo, an immigration judge for the Department of Justice, for her comments during an open hearing for an illegal immigrant facing deportation charges.
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"OSC alleges that DePaolo violated the Hatch Act when she promoted then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's plan for immigration reform during a deportation hearing over which DePaolo was presiding in March 2016," the office said Wednesday.
DePaolo advocated for Hillary Clinton's campaign and a Democratic takeover of Congress from the bench during the hearing.
"According to the complaint, the respondent at the hearing was facing deportation and a subsequent 10-year bar on reentry into the United States, which DePaolo called ‘a pretty harsh thing' that Clinton intended to change, provided ‘the Senate becomes a Democratic body and there's some hope that they can actually pass immigration legislation,'" the Office of Special Counsel said.
"DePaulo said the Republicans, on the other hand, ‘aren't going to do anything' about immigration ‘if they can help it,' other than to ‘try to deport everybody,'" the office said. "The hearing was open to the public."
Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said DePaolo's comments were a clear violation of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity from their public office.
"When a federal immigration judge in a public setting uses her position to advocate for partisan campaign outcomes, that’s a real problem," Kerner said. "Judge DePaolo appears to be in clear violation of the Hatch Act and we believe she should face significant disciplinary action."
The office said the violation could result in "demotion, suspension, removal from employment, and debarment."