Watchdog calls for investigation of WH press secretary for possible Hatch Act violations

Jean-Pierre has previously expressed knowledge of the restrictions placed upon her by the Hatch Act.
Karine Jean-Pierre, July 5, 2022, Washington, D.C.

Watchdog group Protect the Public's Trust has called for an investigation into White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre after making public comments she made that appeared to endorse partisan political messaging.

PPT wrote to the Office of Special Counsel after Jean-Pierre spoke from the official podium in the White House briefing room on Wednesday, saying "Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don't believe in the rule of law. They refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections, and they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn."

The Hatch Act bars public officials, excluding the president and vice president, from engaging in partisan political activity.

"Ms. Jean-Pierre made these statements during an official press briefing, in her role as Press Secretary, from her podium in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room bearing the White House's name, standing in front of the White House's insignia," PPT's letter read. "Her statements were clearly made in her role as an employee of the White House and appear to be political in nature, seeking the defeat of her political opponents in the Republican party in the upcoming general election less than a week away on November 8."

Jean-Pierre has previously expressed knowledge of the restrictions placed upon her by the Hatch Act, explicitly referencing it multiple times in a press briefing earlier this year. PPT recalled that meeting and asserted that observers could not dismiss her Tuesday comments as born from ignorance of the restrictions the law places upon her.

"Ms. Jean-Pierre has acknowledged as much herself on repeated occasions when informing the media that she is incapable of answering certain questions or is limited in her responses under the Hatch Act," the letter continued.

Jean-Pierre's contentious statements came ahead of a high-profile, highly bellicose speech from President Joe Biden on Wednesday evening that denounced former President Donald Trump as a "self-seeking autocrat" [sic] and maligned his supporters as a threat to democracy.

In October, Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain received a warning from the Office of Special Counsel over a tweet he made promoting Democratic Party merchandise.