The group Protect The Public's Trust has filed a request for an investigation into a violation of the Hatch Act by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for her recent comments on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, at the White House press briefing. Protect The Public's Trust said Jean-Pierre's comments were disparaging to President Biden's political opponents when she said "mega MAGA Republican officials who don't believe in the rule of law" during an official press briefing. Protect The Public's Trust says Karine Jean-Pierre's statements were made in her role as a White House employee and appeared to be political in nature, seeking the defeat of her political opponents.
What is the Hatch Act?
The Hatch Act is a federal law that was named after New Mexico Democrat Senator Carl Hatch, who introduced the Hatch Act in 1939. The law came about to protect federal workers from pressure to participate in political activity. This was after an investigation found that Democrat officials in the Roosevelt administration used federal workers, promising them jobs and promotions, to help them campaign in swing states in 1932. The Hatch Act limits certain political activities of federal employees along with some state, local government, and Washington D.C. employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The only two people to whom the Hatch Act doesn't apply are the President and Vice President. The President and Vice President are exempt from the Hatch Act's civil restrictions on political activity, but criminal prohibitions still apply to them. The Hatch Act was also amended in 1993 to add that it is a direct violation of the act for the president to use their position to intimidate, threaten, or coerce a federal employee.
In a nutshell, the Hatch Act restricts political campaigning while on the job. Violations of the Hatch Act are investigated by the Office of Special Counsel, and if a federal employee is found guilty of violating the law, they can be suspended without pay or fired.