Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Fauci for possible 'prohibited political speech'

Fauci compared Trump and Biden in the Washington Post before the 2020 election.

Updated: June 30, 2021 - 3:55pm

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A federal watchdog group filed a complaint Wednesday urging the Office of Special Counsel to investigate statements made by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci to see if they violated government rules on political speech made by federal employees.

Protect the Public's Trust, an ethics watchdog, alleges certain comments Fauci made during interviews are in violation of the Hatch Act, a congressional act that limits federal government employees from engaging in certain political activities using their official authority.

The group said that four days before the November 2020 presidential election, Fauci made a series of statements to The Washington Post that "may have crossed the line into prohibited political speech," which "left little doubt regarding which campaign he supported and the dire public health implications associated with choosing one candidate over another."

Though the watchdog's statement didn't mention the article by name, The Washington Post published an article of an interview with Fauci on Oct. 31, four days before the election headlined, "'A whole lot of hurt': Fauci warns of covid-19 surge, offers blunt assessment of Trump’s response."

In the article, Fauci talks about the state of the pandemic in October as well as former President Trump's handling of the virus.

"We're in for a whole lot of hurt. It's not a good situation," Fauci said in the interview.  "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly."

Just The News reached out to Fauci's office requesting fair comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publishing.

The watchdog argues that by giving his evaluation of Trump and Biden's approaches to handling the pandemic he "crossed into partisan advocacy" and should be investigated. However, it is not clear which Fauci comments in the interview the watchdog views as a breach of the Hatch Act.

"When high-ranking officials use their official positions to advocate for a specific candidate, they abuse this trust and may violate the law," Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public's Trust, said in a statement Wednesday. "In order to restore trust in government, it's essential that the rules be enforced fairly and equally and that officials wielding tremendous power answer for violations they may have committed."

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