White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged Thursday that President Joe Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain violated the Hatch Act, saying that they take the provision seriously but that they “are not perfect.”
“Ron is very careful and takes the Hatch Act very seriously in his media appearances and in his use of Twitter, but he got it wrong this time. And he retweeted something that was political. He fixed it as soon as it was pointed out, and take the warning to be more careful seriously,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.
She added: “That’s very different than the prior crew here – clearly at the White House before us previously – that blatantly, openly and carelessly violated the Hatch Act repeatedly. We are not perfect. But our violations have been few.”
Klain was found to have violated the Hatch Act – a law prohibiting government officials from using their jobs to influence elections – over a retweet sent from his official Twitter account on May 22, which included a message to buy political merchandise for a Democratic group. He removed the retweet after being informed of the complaint. There will be no disciplinary action and Klain was warned to be more careful in the future.
The message retweeted by Klain’s account was about delivering infant formula, but it also included a solicitation for Democratic political merchandise, saying: “Get your Democrats Deliver merch today!”
“Although OSC has concluded that Mr. Klain violated the Hatch Act, as explained below, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and instead issued him a warning letter,” according to a Wednesday memo from the Office of Special Counsel sent to the conservative America First Legal Foundation.
The foundation, which filed the initial complaint earlier this summer, is run by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, who himself ran afoul of the Hatch Act during his time with the previous administration.
As CNN and other news organizations reported at the time, many Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act during his presidency.