Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated federal law by campaigning for President Obama on the taxpayers’ dime, but now that initial violation has the Democratic National Committee and an HHS aide in the spotlight for related alleged infractions.
A nonprofit government watchdog filed a complaint alleging that the DNC violated campaign finance law by misreporting the money it spent to reimburse HHS for Sebelius’ trip in a way that masked the fact that the Hatch Act, a ban on political campaigning by government employees working in their official capacity, had been violated.
“The DNC described the purpose of the expenditure as simply as ‘travel,’ thereby avoiding any acknowledgement that the purpose of the expenditure was to reimburse the federal government for Secretary Sebelius’ Hatch Act violation,” Cause of Action explained in a complaint to the Federal Elections Commission.
If the DNC had described properly the expenditures, which were paid out in April and August of 2012, it would have implicitly admitted that the law had been broken even before the Office of Special Counsel concluded its investigation into Sebelius’ trip to North Carolina, where she spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Gala. Sebelius attended the gala on official business, but added extemporaneous remarks in support of President Obama and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
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