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White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded on Friday to allegations that she’d violated the Hatch Act, but the all-smiles way in which she responded left many critics unconvinced of her remorse.
The allegations were contained in a complaint filed Friday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) watchdog group.
The group’s Wikipedia page notes that it was founded specifically “as a counterweight to conservative government watchdog groups such as Judicial Watch,” meaning it’s certainly no conservative organization.
The complaint asks the Office of Special Counsel to “investigate whether White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki violated the Hatch Act by advocating for the election of Terry McAuliffe to be governor of Virginia during an official White House press briefing.”
“These actions were directed specifically toward the success or failure of a political candidate in a partisan race. By mixing official government business with support of a candidate for partisan political office in the weeks before the election and engaging in political activity while on duty, Ms. Psaki appears to have used her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, political activity that is prohibited by law,” the complaint reads.
BREAKING: We just filed a Hatch Act complaint against Jen Psaki, because no administration is above the law https://t.co/BzwBa6Cd9x
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) October 15, 2021
During an appearance Friday evening on CNN, Psaki claimed that she cares about ethics yet acted indifferent about what she’d done.
“I take ethics seriously. So does this president, of course. As I understand it, if I had said ‘he’ instead of ‘we,’ that would not have been an issue at all. And I will be more careful with my words next time. Words certainly matter,” she said with a giant smile on her face.
The answer left many dissatisfied given, in part, the nature of her offense. During a White House press briefing Thursday, she openly and brazenly endorsed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Asked by a reporter whether the administration perceives the Virginia gubernatorial race as a “bellwether” for 2022, Psaki refused to reply, saying only that the administration — including her — fully back McAuliffe.
“Well, I have to be a little careful about how much political analysis I do from here and not traipse into that too much. Look, I think the president of course, wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia. There is alignment on a lot of their agenda, whether it is the need to invest in rebuilding our roads, rails, and bridges, or making it easier for women to rejoin the workforce,” she said.
“I will say, I will leave it to other outside analysis to convey, that off-year elections are often not a bellwether, and there’s a lot of history here in Virginia. But again, we’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe. And we believe in the agenda he’s representing,” she added.
Notice her use of the word “we.” The meaning conveyed by “we” seemed clear to CREW.
“That appears to be an endorsement of his candidacy. The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from ‘us[ing their] official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,'” a press release from the organization reads.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 16, 2021
Psaki’s response also fell flat because this isn’t even the first time she — and others in the administration — have acted unethically.
Seven months ago, CREW sent the Biden administration a warning letter admonishing them for two “close calls.”
“Last week, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (‘HUD’) Marcia L. Fudge may have run afoul of the Hatch Act by commenting during a White House press briefing about an upcoming Senate election in her home state of Ohio,” the March 22nd letter read.
When asked whether she wanted “to weigh in on” the election to replace her former House seat, Fudge said that she believed “we can win the Senate race.”
That was close call number one.
“On February 9, 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted from her official @PressSec account about efforts to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom, stating: ‘In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crises to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom,'” the letter continues.
This controversial tweet still remains up to this day, suggesting again that the White House press secretary doesn’t really care.
In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 9, 2021
Nor, it appears, do her supporters care. CREW is currently being assaulted on Twitter by leftists slamming it for going after her and asking why it’d never gone after Trump administration officials.
Here’s a sample of the left-wing rage:
I don’t think the text you listed as in violation is an actual violation. It’s functionally no different than laying out the President’s itinerary and party affiliation and saying he shares that affiliation with McAuliffe.
Trying a bit too hard there.
— The last best hope for Travis (@travisjohnson) October 15, 2021
She was responding to a question, with a accurate answer. She was not promoting.
— Bobby Tyson 🇩🇪 🇮🇱 🇺🇸 (@Bobby__Tyson) October 15, 2021
Remember the previous administrations multiple violations of the Hatch Act that no one was held accountable for? We do.
— TIM ⚽️⚾️🏒🏈 (@TBates314) October 15, 2021
The last 4 years called. 🤦🏻♀️
— Melissa, Ph.D is fully vaccinated (@MelissaR7777) October 15, 2021
Yeah, because the countless Hatch Act violations from the previous administration were taken seriously and met with justice every time. 🙄
— David Mattoon™🌀🌊 (@DaveMattoon) October 15, 2021
A simple search of CREW’s website shows that, in fact, it’d filed dozens (if not hundreds) of Hatch Act complaints against Trump administration officials.
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