This week, Cause of Action filed an FEC complaint revealing the Democratic National Committee’s violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) in a potential attempt to hide its reimbursement for Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’ Hatch Act violation.
At a Human Rights Campaign Gala in February 2012, speaking in her official capacity, Secretary Sebelius campaigned for the election of Walter Dalton as Governor of North Carolina and of Barack Obama as President of the United States – a violation of federal law. In attempting to belatedly “fix” her Hatch Act violation, Secretary Sebelius received reimbursement from the DNC for the cost of her attendance at the Gala, and five months later (and only at the behest of the Office of Special Counsel) those of HHS staffer AJ Pearlman, who supported Sebelius at the event. However, the DNC failed to properly file these reimbursements under FECA, another breach of the law.
Cause of Action further found that during Sebelius’ effort to avoid responsibility for her Hatch Act violation, she retroactively reclassified her speech at the HRC Gala as a political instead of an official event. Securing reimbursement from the DNC for the event in an attempt to pretend the abuse never happened was enough to convince the President that no discipline was necessary in Sebelius’ case. Secretary Sebelius escaped the most high-profile Hatch Act violation in history completely unscathed.
But that’s not the end of the story. Sebelius’ classification of the event as political means that AJ Pearlman now stands in violation of the Hatch Act as well. As a government employee, Pearlman cannot participate in political events on work time. Once Sebelius reclassified her speech as political, the DNC chose to reimburse HHS for Pearlman’s expenses as well. Pearlman, who had prepared Sebelius for the event and was in attendance with her, is now in violation of the Hatch Act, an offense punishable by firing, as her actions were done on the taxpayers’ dime.
The DNC violated FECA as it scrambled to fix Sebelius’ mistake.
Pearlman’s career has been jeopardized as a result of the law Sebelius broke.
When will Secretary Sebelius take responsibility for her own actions?
When will the OSC properly investigate these new allegations of Hatch Act violations?
Will the new revelations Cause of Action has brought to light about Sebelius’ corruption convince the President to finally ask her to accept the consequences of her actions?
We filed complaints this week with the Federal Election Commission against the DNC and with the OSC concerning AJ Pearlman. Will these agencies heed the call of accountability?