Recordings Reveal Former Labor Secretary Violated Hatch Act

Solicited donations for President Obama’s reelection campaign

Hilda Solis
Hilda Solis / AP
July 16, 2014

A former top Obama appointee solicited donations for the president’s reelection campaign on the job, according to audio recordings released by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis allegedly violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity on government time, when she invited an unnamed person to a fundraiser for President Obama’s super PAC.

"Hi—this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here—Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 P.M.," she says in the voicemail obtained by the committee.

Solis served as the guest of honor at the fundraiser. Although political appointees are allowed to privately participate in fundraisers, they are prohibited from conducting such business on company time. The committee says that the call came from Solis’ government phone. On the call, she asks the person to recruit other attendees for the fundraiser.

"There are a lot of folks that we know that are coming but wanted to ask you if you might help contribute or get other folks to help out," she says in the recording. "It’s for a Friday event at La Fonda [inaudible] we’re just trying to raise money to show that we have support."

Solis has denied that she violated any federal law in connection to the fundraiser.

"Solis knows that the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from personally soliciting campaign donations. She believes that her participation in the (fundraiser) was proper and does not believe that she has done anything illegal or improper," she said in a statement released in February.

The committee released the recordings as part of a larger investigation of political activity in the Obama administration during the 2012 campaign. Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach David Simas failed to comply with a congressional subpoena to appear before the committee.

Solis is just the latest federal employee to become embroiled in Hatch Act violations. Last week the IRS suspended a worker for exhorting callers to vote for Obama in 2012.

Solis was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in June, despite the FBI inquiry and committee investigation into her activities. Her transition team did not respond to request for comment.

Published under: Hatch Act , Hilda Solis