Double standard, much? During his recent town hall on Fox News Channel, Julian Castro commented on the recommendation by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that Kellyanne Conway should be fired from her job in the White House. The finding of the OSC is that Kellyanne violated the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act is a federal law that restricts the political activities of some federal employees. The OSC, a federal watchdog, claims that more than once Kellyanne crossed the line, though she has attended ethics training sessions and was given documents that covered the restrictions in the act.
The Hatch Act states that no administrative employee may run for partisan political office or “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office.” It was originally titled “an act to prevent pernicious political activities,” but has since been named for its author, former New Mexico Senator Carl Hatch.
The OSC report found that in November and December 2017 Conway violated the Hatch Act during appearances on two cable news shows – Fox and Friends and CNN’s New Day. She allegedly “improperly advocated” for the Republican candidate in a race to elect a Senator from Alabama. She spoke against the policies being put forth by the Democrat candidate, Doug Jones and spoke of her support of the Republican candidate, Roy Moore. The White House Communications Office advised her to just say, “Let the people of Alabama decide” in interviews. Though given a chance to respond to the report, she did not. The White House calls the findings of the report a violation of her First Amendment rights.
So, how does Julian Castro feel about all this? Castro is running for the Democrat nomination to be his party’s presidential candidate. He previously held office in Texas as the Mayor of San Antonio and in the Obama administration as HUD Secretary. During his time at HUD, Castro was also found to have violated the Hatch Act restrictions. He did not, however, leave his position.
In a letter written by the OSC and directed to President Obama at the time, it’s explained that the “OSC concluded that Secretary Castro violated the Hatch Act by advocating for and against Presidential candidates.”
Elaborating on the accusation, the letter detailed that “Secretary Castro’s statements during [a televised] interview impermissible mixed his personal political views with official agency business despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity.”
The incident in question took place during an interview with Katie Couric, who was questioning him about HUD policy.
In responding to Couric, Castro stated that “now, taking off my HUD hat for a second and just speaking individually, it is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful, and prepared candidate for president that we have this year.”
That was then and this is now. Now Castro defends himself. He told town hall moderator Bret Baier that his Hatch Act violation was “an isolated incident” that he tried to learn from. How convenient. He’s just a guy who made a mistake while he assumes Kellyanne Conway doesn’t care about the law’s restrictions and will continue to violate them.
Furthermore, Castro explained that he doesn’t “think we’re gonna find anybody either in this race or in our homes or in our communities, that’s never made mistakes. The true test of a leader is, what do you do when you make that mistake? Are you big enough to own up to it and then make sure you correct what you do in the future, or do you do, basically, what she did, and say, ‘No, I’m bigger than that?’”
In other words, Julian Castro exhibits the same arrogant behavior of which he accuses Kellyanne Conway. He made a mistake, move on, is his attitude. She is found to have violated the same federal law and he thinks she should be removed from the White House. She is an adviser to the president. He was HUD Secretary, a job I would argue is more substantial than that which Kellyanne holds. That is not to belittle her job. Castro, however, was the head of a very large department in the federal government who set the tone and example of personal behavior for those who worked under his leadership. He was a cabinet secretary.
In the end, this will not matter as it pertains to the 2020 presidential race. Julian Castro is hovering at the bottom of the heap of Democrats running for the nomination, though he did qualify for the first debate. Real Clear Politics shows his polling average to be at 1%. He will participate in the first group.