Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, accused Jen Psaki, White House press secretary of violating Hatch Act following her comments about the Virginia gubernatorial races.
Psaki stated that Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor, has the support of President Joe Biden when he was asked about it during a Thursday press conference.
“I think the President, of course, wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia,” Psaki said only weeks before the Nov. 2 election. “We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.”
CREW addressed a letter to the White House Office of Special Counsel requesting an investigation into whether Psaki violated the Hatch Act — a federal law prohibiting executive branch employees from “activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, partisan political candidate, or partisan political group.”
“By mixing official government business with the 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, a political activity that is prohibited by law,” the letter states.
The White House did no immediate respond to a request for comment.
Psaki stated to CNN’s Jake Tapper Friday that she and Biden take ethics “seriously.”
“As I understand it, if I said ‘he’ instead of ‘we,’ that would not have been an issue at all. And I’ll be more careful with my words next time, words certainly matter,” she stated.
CREW sent a similar letter to the White House Counsel earlier this year after Psaki tweeted Biden “clearly opposes any effort to recall Gavin Newsom.” Newsom won the historic recall election in September.
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also criticized Psaki Thursday, tweeting that the media should hold Psaki accountable.
“There is no problem in engaging in First Amendment political activity, but it must be done separate and apart from the podium,” she said.
McEnany’s tweet was met with a flurry of responses, many citing her past experiences. McEnany, a former press secretary, has been accused of Hatch Act violations for double-dealing as Trump’s campaign advisor during his 2020 bid for reelection.
Trump’s acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee at the White House raised further concerns regarding Hatch Act violations.
“The shamelessness, ah the shamelessness…” MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, host of the “Mehdi Hasan Show,” wrote above a repost of McEnany’s tweet.