Should Obama fire Sebelius for violating the Hatch Act?

posted at 3:21 pm on September 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

That’s what Rep. Joe Walsh tells the Daily Caller, fresh off of a report from the Office of Special Counsel that found the HHS Secretary had campaigned while on official duty — a big no-no.  On the law, Walsh has a point:

Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh told The Daily Caller he thinks President Barack Obama shouldn’t treat Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius any differently than any other Hatch Act violator — and that the president should terminate Sebelius’ employment immediately.

“As the president who said he had ‘put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history,’ I would expect nothing less than for the president to quickly dismiss Ms. Sebelius,” Walsh told TheDC. “Her actions were not just a violation of the Hatch Act — they were a violation of the people’s trust who believe that their tax payer dollars are not being spent to help promote party politics.”

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said Wednesday that Sebelius violated the law when she publicly endorsed Obama’s re-election and North Carolina Lieutenant Gov. Walter Dalton’s gubernatorial primary in a multi-way race during a taxpayer-funded public event on Feb. 25, 2012. The standard penalty for violating the Hatch Act is termination. But, the White House has suggested that Obama will offer Sebelius special treatment and let her keep her job.

According to OSC, any “employee who violates the Hatch Act shall be removed from their position, and funds appropriated for the position from which removed thereafter may not be used to pay the employee or individual.”

Obama so far has shown no inclination to fire Sebelius.  Should he?  I’m skeptical that the Hatch Act was intended to seriously cover Cabinet secretaries and other high-level political appointees.  The law itself doesn’t exclude anyone except the President and Vice President, but the grounds for determining violations seems pretty opaque when it comes to parsing the highly political activities of Cabinet secretaries in particular.

In this case, Sebelius was giving a speech at a Human Rights Campaign “Gala,” which is hardly apolitical, and extemporaneously told the crowd that Democrats should be elected to office to support their cause.  That certainly was the intended subtext of Sebelius’ appearance at the event, was it not?  HHS ended up reclassifying the event as “political” and the expenses reimbursed from private political sources after the complaint was filed, but Sebelius’ mere presence at the event was political from the start.  She’s a politician, and a high-ranking one, while being a federal employee based on her appointment by the President and confirmation by the Senate.

And that’s really the point.  Everyone understands that Sebelius is a politician, and any statement she makes is seen through that prism.  At least as I understand the Hatch Act, the intent was to keep people like Sebelius from using career employees for political purposes, and to keep career civil servants from conducting political activities under the radar.  That’s why the allegations last month that Illinois state employees funded with federal monies were forced to take part in a political rally are truly serious potential violations of the Hatch Act, and need to be prosecuted fully. Sebelius acting like a political hack at an obviously political event is hardly news, and hardly a problem now that the taxpayers have been reimbursed for her expenses.

I’d rather that we don’t start setting precedents to attack Cabinet Secretaries over arguable Hatch Act violations to litigate issues in court that should be pursued politically.  That knife has two edges.

Let’s put this up to a vote.  Should she stay or should she go?


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I’m skeptical that the Hatch Act was intended to seriously cover Cabinet secretaries and other high-level political appointees. The law itself doesn’t exclude anyone except the President and Vice President

That’s all you need to know. Fire her.

Stoic Patriot on September 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

please, he would promote her if he could.

rob verdi on September 14, 2012 at 3:24 PM

She should be fired because she’s an incompetent farking hack. The Hatch Act is just one pretext to dump her.

Frankly, that same description covers pretty much every member of this administration outside of CIA director David Petraeus.

teke184 on September 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Wait, you want Obama to respect the law? Ed, Ed, Ed….

joejm65 on September 14, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Yes.

Should 0bama step down?

Yes.

ProfShadow on September 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

No she should be fired because she’s a socialist piece of crap.

lorien1973 on September 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Does this question even need to be asked? The real problem here is that this lawless administration will do nothing, and the sycophantic media will do nothing to hold this administration accountable. And the whole thing is probably a Romney gaffe somehow.

NotCoach on September 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Yes, just before he resigns for criminal negligence. Of course he will do neither since he has no morals, ethics or integrity.

War is coming to the Middle East.

SWalker on September 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

High crimes and misdemeanors are resume-enhancers to the Dems.

SKYFOX on September 14, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Yeah, no. That’s not going to happen. Sotomayer is starring in an ad for Barackabama.

SouthernGent on September 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Yes, but he won’t.

He and Sebelius are creeps.

Schadenfreude on September 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

There is a requirement for Federal Employees that if they are not terminated that they receive a 30 Day suspension without pay.

If it is a State employee they are either fired or nothing else happens to them, but the rule is clear for Federal Employees. Termination or 30 Day suspension.

weaselyone on September 14, 2012 at 3:28 PM

I just received an email telling me my Health Savings Account will be limited to $2500 because of Obamacare. I saved $5000 the last couple years and used every penny. Now, I’ll have to pay taxes on the balance of healthcare services I use. Obama is increasing taxes by reducing the HSA amount.

I hate these thugs.

freedomfirst on September 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

That will never, EVER, happen. Ever.

Notice how not one person on the left is calling for this either? Imagine if W had done 1/2 the things Obama has done. They would be HOWLING right now.

No. Nothing will happen. Because with politics, it doesn’t matter what the guy does, so long as it’s your guy doing it.

Ugh.

Gatsu on September 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

This criminal woman has unchecked power over your lives, literally.

Schadenfreude on September 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Absolutely he should. But first Obama needs to fire Holder over Fast & Furious and Hillary for Stevens’ death….what’s that? He’s not going to fire any of them?

Doughboy on September 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

THe law says one thing,Obama says another.Never happen.

docflash on September 14, 2012 at 3:30 PM

The law should be enforced.

If Congress and the president don’t think the law should apply to cabinet secretaries, they can change the law to exempt them in future. But the law currently covers them, and should be enforced.

We’ve seen enough of this current president refusing to enforce any laws he does not happen to personally agree with. It’s wrong, and it violates the oath he took — not that he gives a damn about that. But we should.

AZCoyote on September 14, 2012 at 3:31 PM

She knows too much – she can’t be fired.

Pork-Chop on September 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

…laws are for the little people!

KOOLAID2 on September 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

I agree that anything she speaks to could be assumed to be political. So the right and logical thing to do was not use tax payer money to begin with. If they did nothing wrong then why reclassify the event and pay back money? That shows guilt. Fire her.

cadams on September 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

too big liberal to fail.

If Eric Holder isn’t let go, then Kathy Sebelius won’t be either. Let him keep his miscreants and enjoy them while they last.

ted c on September 14, 2012 at 3:32 PM

FLASH: US credit rating downgraded again… Developing…

ted c on September 14, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Fire her ass

djl130 on September 14, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Well yah, but that’s not really the chigaco way.

onomo on September 14, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Of course she should be fired immediately but she won’t. Should Republicans pursue this? Hell no. DISTRACTION!!!The snake’s head is the problem.

rhombus on September 14, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Obama should fire Holder and Sebelius but he would never fire his useful idiots.

ObamatheMessiah on September 14, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Yes, but she won’t. We already knew that. She’s protected goods. She could make an anti-Muslim video and post it on YouTube, and not be fired.

Actually, that would hold for just about anyone in the Obama Administration this close to election day. They don’t handle scandal well.

BKeyser on September 14, 2012 at 3:35 PM

OK, let’s try it this way. Can anyone name a single Democrat or Fifth Column Treasonous Media propagandist that would not be demanding the Sarah Palin be fired it it were Sarah Palin that had blatantly violated the Hatch Act while campaigning for President Mitt Romney.

SWalker on September 14, 2012 at 3:35 PM

The law hasn’t mattered in previous decisions, I don’t know why it would matter now.

STL_Vet on September 14, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Way to take a principled stand, Ed.

The law is the law, Ed, and granting exceptions is more of a slippery slope than holding people responsible for their acts ever could be.

We can multiply this so many times. Should we issue passes to Osama Obama and Eric Holder for their law-breaking? Should we be “fair” and grant them do-overs?

Or should we make them pay for their crimes, large and small?

MrScribbler on September 14, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Throw that on the pile of other broken laws, and we could have a bonfire.Does our leadership do anything about it? – tumbleweeds and a whistling wind-

SMACKRUNNER on September 14, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Who voted no? All the trolls?

22044 on September 14, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Should Obama fire Sebelius for violating the Hatch Act?

Why? Disregarding or breaking the law is usually a resume enhancer for a Dimocrat.

Thomas More on September 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Who cares what reason, just fire her!

DAT60A3 on September 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I’m with Ed on this one.

Hold them to the letter of the law, but don’t allow those with an agenda to turn every address by any person in a position similar to Sebelius into an excuse for investigation and allegation.

thatsafactjack on September 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Should Obama fire Sebelius for violating the Hatch Act?

No. We should.

Typhoon on September 14, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Laws are really just guidelines for constitutional scholars.

STL_Vet on September 14, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Never. Gonna. Happen.

Philly on September 14, 2012 at 3:41 PM

I’ll add this to my last post: WE ARE UP NEXT. I don’t want to see every address by one of Romney’s cabinet or administration turned into political circus based on the Hatch Act.

thatsafactjack on September 14, 2012 at 3:42 PM

She should be fired for merely going in to the office every morning but the Hatch Act works as well.

NY Conservative on September 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Of course she should be fired. But this administration likes to protect those in it that violate the law.

sadatoni on September 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Silly posters. Don’t you know? Laws are for the little people.

/

HoustonRight on September 14, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Of course he should fire her but he won’t. Her behavior is typical of Obama’s goons but he believes he and they, are above the law. This poor Republic is very sick.

rplat on September 14, 2012 at 3:44 PM

At least as I understand the Hatch Act, the intent was to keep people like Sebelius from using career employees for political purposes, and to keep career civil servants from conducting political activities under the radar.

From Wikipedia:

Sebelius served as executive director and chief lobbyist for the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association (now Kansas Association for Justice) from 1977–1986. She was first elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1986. In 1994 she left the House to run for state Insurance Commissioner and stunned political forecasters by winning – the first time a Democrat had won in more than 10 years.

Sebelius was first elected governor of Kansas in 2002. She was re-elected in 2006.

Sure seems like she’s a career “public servant” to me.

Mitoch55 on September 14, 2012 at 3:45 PM

She’ll be gone in 4 months anyway. I HOPE!!!!

Dingbat63 on September 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Her appearance there and flacking for policies in place would have been marginal, but given her position, would be within the realm of acceptability. When she moved from that to out and out campaigning based on her comment that democrats needed to be re-elected, she crossed a very obvious line. No gray area there. So, yeah, she should be fired.

AZfederalist on September 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Kathleen Sebelius – hussein’s SECOND TAX CHEAT candidate for HHS secretary – used undocumented, phony deductions to cheat the federal government out of more than $7000 over three years.

She LIED repeatedly to the IRS!!! Do you actually expect she’ll tell the truth to the American people?????

She’s an unethical, lying, reprobate d-cRAT socialist TAX CHEAT. But then, aren’t they all?

OBOZO is MORE LIKELY to give her a raise and promotion for her latest violation of the law, rather than condemn her despicable behavior.

TeaPartyNation on September 14, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Should Obama fire Sebelius for violating the Hatch Act?

Does an OWS dump on a police car?

What, are we throwing softballs today?

LoganSix on September 14, 2012 at 3:50 PM

HHS ended up reclassifying the event as “political” and the expenses reimbursed from private political sources after the complaint was filed

Someone thought it would be problematic… otherwise they wouldn’t bother to take any action.

Her appearance there and flacking for policies in place would have been marginal, but given her position, would be within the realm of acceptability. When she moved from that to out and out campaigning based on her comment that democrats needed to be re-elected, she crossed a very obvious line. No gray area there. So, yeah, she should be fired.

AZfederalist on September 14, 2012 at 3:46 PM

I think this is about my opinion. If she’d been shilling for say ObamaCare (even using that term) it would have been different.

Maybe it shouldn’t be (as we all know what she’d mean) but it’s like PACs not directly and openly coordinating with a candidate. We’d at least like the pretense that you’re not completely corrupt.

gekkobear on September 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Laws are for little people.

Rebar on September 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Yeah, Obama should fire Sebelius–just before he fires himself for the same reason.

stukinIL4now on September 14, 2012 at 3:52 PM

She’s a powerful influence on him, so it isn’t wise to throw the driver under the bus.

Nevah Happ’n folks.

Don L on September 14, 2012 at 3:53 PM

We need a pillory on the Mall for all the DC scoundrels! Come on you know that would get their attention.

tim c on September 14, 2012 at 3:53 PM

I’ll add this to my last post: WE ARE UP NEXT. I don’t want to see every address by one of Romney’s cabinet or administration turned into political circus based on the Hatch Act.

thatsafactjack on September 14, 2012 at 3:42 PM

It’s naive to think that cutting the democratics any slack anwhere will be paid back. That’s not how politics works.

slickwillie2001 on September 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

He cannot fire the Abortion Queen.
It will never happen.
This adminstration breaks laws every day and they are proud of it.

maryo on September 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Should Dear Leader be fired for the laws that he has broken/ignored..?

d1carter on September 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

OT Fox reporting CTU stike over. Classes resuming Monday.

HoustonRight on September 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

She’s an unethical, lying, reprobate d-cRAT socialist TAX CHEAT. But then, aren’t they all?

TeaPartyNation on September 14, 2012 at 3:47 PM

We wouldn’t cheat on our taxes because we know that doing so would bring the full wrath of the IRS down upon us. However, we have Geitner, Sebelius, and Daschle to name just three who managed to get away with such cheating relatively unscathed. The democrat party shows itself again to be nothing more than a regime where the laws are selectively applied, to their enemies to hound them out of office, to common citizens to keep them in fear, but to their friends with compassion and forgiveness and then only if those transgressions are ever brought to the public’s attention.

AZfederalist on September 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

He might replace her with Bill Ayers.

Deano1952 on September 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

How about SOME kind of punishment? I think that’s been done before. The “she’s had additional training” BS is an insult to the rule of law. Yeah, I know it’s the Obama administration, the whole thing is an insult to the rule of law but that doesn’t mean we can’t call a spade a spade…oops! Sorry, my bad.

jnelchef on September 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

That’s not my breath I’m holding.

MassVictim on September 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Thet will all be fired in November.

1921 C DRUM on September 14, 2012 at 4:01 PM

slickwillie2001 on September 14, 2012 at 3:54 PM

It’s not about ‘cutting slack’, it’s about setting viable precedent.

thatsafactjack on September 14, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Just add Sebelius to the long list of other Obama administration officials that have yet to be fired for violating the law. Nothing will be done.

Zcat on September 14, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Why, pray tell, would Obama do something that complies with the law, is honest and ethical now? He has set the tenor of his administration long ago and none of those things have been a part of it since the beginning.

Pardonme on September 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Alternate poll headline: Are You Conservative? (I vote “yes!”)

RobertMN on September 14, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Has the Community Organizer EVER FIRED ANYONE ?

FlaMurph on September 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM

A waste of time. He’s not going to fire her. He doesn’t care what you think.

rrpjr on September 14, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Sebelius should be fired, and so should Clinton. If one of them is selected to be ushered under the bus, which one will it be. Hmmm. I think Sebelius is a Gone Pecan.

RushBaby on September 14, 2012 at 4:17 PM

The obligatory Ed Morrissey “Let’s play by proper Marquess of Queensberry rules with the people who take every opportunity to destroy us” post.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on September 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

128 days….

And the world returns to sanity and they will all be out of a job.

tjexcite on September 14, 2012 at 4:25 PM

The law itself doesn’t exclude anyone except the President and Vice President, but…

Stop right there. No “but.” If the law was intended to exempt cabinet secretaries, it could have easily done so. It didn’t. If we start doing the “well, the intent probably wasn’t to include cabinet secretaries and, anyway, this law is hard to parse” stuff, then we become no better than those Supreme Court justices who twisted the text of Obamacare like a pretzel to find a reason to uphold it.

Shump on September 14, 2012 at 4:26 PM

If you are an underling, part of the civil service and violate the Hatch Act, you can expect a nice visit from the FBI and look forward to time in Stripe City. And it applies across ALL of government, Secretaries and appointed officials are not exempt. She should be fired to go into custody to be prosecuted… not that Holder’s DOJ will see her case as more important than finding an film maker who is innocent of breaking any laws…

ajacksonian on September 14, 2012 at 4:30 PM

No need to fire her, she is just doing what democrats do.

Wade on September 14, 2012 at 4:32 PM

Notice how not one person on the left is calling for this either? Imagine if W had done 1/2 the things Obama has done. They would be HOWLING right now.

Gatsu on September 14, 2012 at 3:29 PM

The left has never stopped “HOWLING” about Bush.

Conservative4Ever on September 14, 2012 at 4:36 PM

She’s an abortion loving female democrat. You can’t get much more bullet proof than that in this administration. Oh, well, I guess it would be even better if she were a lesbian.

natasha333 on September 14, 2012 at 4:39 PM

The most transparent & ethical administration in US history would fire her. But for Obama, those are “just words.”

clghitis on September 14, 2012 at 4:39 PM

If he had any honor, he would…but he won’t. Holder is still around.

xmanvietnam on September 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

At a minimum, Secretary Sebelius should be concerned that she could easily be fired.

It would be a good reminder for her to realize that she isn’t going to like it any more than we do, when some far away government bureaucrat who happens to be Secretary-Of-The-Moment gets to decide what HER health care options are.

Golden Rule: Treat other people the way you yourself would like to be treated. (‘cuz you might just lose all your government power sooner than you think)

wren on September 14, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Yes. Apply the law. Better yet, he should never have appointed such a hyperpartisan to a cabinet level office.

flataffect on September 14, 2012 at 4:51 PM

This administration, from the top down, has violated so many laws it would be hard to single out Her Highness of Health Care for special treatment.

GarandFan on September 14, 2012 at 4:53 PM

But, then who would oversee the ACA ??
oy

pambi on September 14, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Fire Sebelius, but remember that Kansas has a “no return” policy on defective used merchandise.

landlines on September 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

I have seen people escorted out of the PO for violations of the Hatch Act. It is a serious thing, although most people do not think so, until they get caught. It is there for a reason and she should resign in lieu of termination. Thepenalties are several, up to and including termination or dismissal. She stole time from the people that pay her salary.

j bo on September 14, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Has the Community Organizer EVER FIRED ANYONE ?

FlaMurph on September 14, 2012 at 4:07 PM

This actually kinda makes sense. Since he’s never run anything (other than a campaign), maybe he doesn’t know how to do it.

Mitoch55 on September 14, 2012 at 5:31 PM

She just broke the law, what’s the big deal? I’m sure she won’t do it again. Bush wouldn’t have fired her…

Can you believe that Romney had the gall to speak ill of Obama during a crisis? Why hasn’t HE been arrested!?! They never arrested Bush either…

You know what I think about when caskets are being removed from airplanes? Perfect fall sweatshirts of course!

My faith in humanity is REALLY being tested.

AbeFroman on September 14, 2012 at 5:47 PM

He’ll never fire her, so let’s fire him and get rid of the whole scurilous bunch.

BetseyRoss on September 14, 2012 at 6:01 PM

In this case, Sebelius was giving a speech at a Human Rights Campaign “Gala,” which is hardly apolitical, and extemporaneously told the crowd that Democrats should be elected to office to support their cause.

This is the best argument I have seen to fire her.

She knew this was going to be a political event yet she used the taxpayers dime to go and speak politically there. Can not think of a more clear violation.

She only paid back the government when she got caught.

That was simply the theft of money from the Government. Then getting caught thinking you can just then put the money back. Wrong the intent was to defraud the government to get them to pay for a political trip. That is a gross violation.

Steveangell on September 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM

The Law could not be applied to P and VP due to illegitimate superceding of the US Constitution. Congress has full “Rule and Regulations” Power over departments, offices, ministries. I giggle when folks think positions work-for the President; they do not. “Executive-level” is just Wilsonian admin-theory of BEE ESS.

John Kettlewell on September 14, 2012 at 6:22 PM

I’m not sure why her being a political appointee makes her violation of the law any better. On first analysis, I would think that appointees especially need to be restrained by the law because they are politicians, otherwise there would be no restraint on those with the strongest motivation to violate the law and use government resources for partisan purposes. It’s understandable that elected officials would be exempt, they’re hired by the people who can vote them out, but an appointee isn’t exempted, and the law says “… shall be removed from their position”, not “… may be …”.

Socratease on September 14, 2012 at 6:38 PM

He should fire himself. Or we could fire him in November.

hawkdriver on September 14, 2012 at 6:39 PM

I’m skeptical that the Hatch Act was intended to seriously cover Cabinet secretaries and other high-level political appointees.

Read the law Ed. It covers all Federal employees and Military officers.

Mr. Grump on September 15, 2012 at 9:37 AM