Housing and Urban Development chief violated Hatch Act
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jul 20, 2016
The Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, violated the Hatch Act, having “impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official agency business,” according to an official finding by the Office of Special Counsel.
The breach took place during a recent media interview in which Secretary Castro discussed specific political opinions on camera while “speaking in his official capacity.” The OSC, which monitors and investigates complaints of illegal political activity by civil servants, released the finding July 18.
“The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election,” the OSC stated in its finding. “While federal employees are permitted to make partisan remarks when speaking in their personal capacity, the Hatch Act restricts employees from doing so when using an official title or when speaking about agency business.”
OSC determined Castro’s political statements represented a violation, since the interview was arranged by HUD’s Office of Public Affairs, took place at HUD, and featured Secretary Castro outlining official HUD activities “with the HUD seal visible behind him.”
Prior to making the political statements, Secretary Castro had clarified on camera that he was “taking [his] HUD hat off”— but he later noted, according to OSC’s finding, “that fact may not have been obvious to viewers.”