Cause of Action Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Interior Sec. Ken Salazar
Did Salazar Campaign for President Obama While On Official Business?
WASHINGTON – Cause of Action (CoA) filed a complaint on Monday with the Office of Special Counsel requesting an evaluation of activities and statements made by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at an October 5, 2012 event in Colorado that appear to violate the Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7323(a) & 7324(a).
As first reported by The Colorado Observer, Sec. Salazar, “a former state attorney general and U.S. senator from Colorado, appeared at an event sponsored by the Montrose County Democratic Party. The party’s online calendar encouraged would-be participants to ‘(m)eet and greet our Democratic elected officials on their RV tour of the Western Slope, including Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.’”
Reports from the event claim that Sec. Salazar invoked support for the re-election of President Obama, which, if done in his official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, would be a violation of the Hatch Act.
“Cause of Action has serious concern about yet another administration official using taxpayer-funded time, travel, and title for direct political campaigning,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action. “First we exposed two Federal Aviation Administration officials for directing employees how to vote. The very next week, Sec. Kathleen Sebelius was found to have violated two counts of the Hatch Act, and now it appears Sec. Ken Salazar violated the Hatch Act in using his official capacity to campaign for the President. His behavior warrants attention and investigation by the OSC, as no violator of the Hatch Act should get away with such behavior.”
If Sec. Salazar is found to have violated the Hatch Act, his activity is considered illegal. As Cause of Action wrote in their complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel:
“On October 5, 2012, Secretary Salazar may have used his official title to promote the 2012 candidacy of Barack Obama for President. Secretary Salazar appeared at numerous rallies in Colorado where he encouraged citizens to register to vote in the November election and he leveraged his title to appeal to swing voters about the importance of Colorado -one of eight so-called purple states – in this election, as well as the importance of re-electing Obama because of the supposed damage a President Romney would do for the country’s future. This is clearly partisan activity in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a) and possibly a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7324(a), if Secretary Salazar was acting while on official duty.”
The complaint filed with OSC can be found here.
About Cause of Action:
Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses investigative, legal, and communications tools to educate the public on how government accountability and transparency protects taxpayer interests and economic opportunity. For more information, visit www.causeofaction.org.