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White House press secretary Jen Psaki promised to “choose my words more carefully” following a Friday complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which claimed she apparently violated the Hatch Act.
In the complaint, the nonpartisan non-profit U.S. government ethics and accountability watchdog group called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate Psaki for comments she made from the White House podium Thursday regarding the Virginia gubernatorial campaign.
In response to the complaint, Psaki told Fox News, “While the president has publicly expressed his support for McAuliffe, we’ll leave it to the press and the campaign to provide commentary on the race. I take ethics very seriously and will choose my words more carefully moving forward.”
In the comments CREW took issue with, Psaki responded to a question about the Virginia gubernatorial race by first acknowledging she had “to be a little careful about how much political analysis I do” from the podium. She then went on to say, “Look, I think the president, of course, wants former Governor McAuliffe to be the future governor of Virginia.
“There is alignment on a lot of their agenda, whether it is the need to invest in rebuilding our roads, rails, and bridges, or making it easier for women to rejoin the workforce,” she continued.
She later added, “We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.”
CREW said that Psaki’s comments appeared to have violated the Hatch Act, which forbids officials from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”
Noting how there was “no question” Psaki made her remarks while speaking in her official capacity, CREW said, “By mixing official government business with support of a candidate for partisan political office in the weeks before the election and engaging in political activity while on duty, Ms. Psaki appears to have used her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, political activity that is prohibited by law.”
CREW repeatedly issued complaints regarding apparent Hatch Act violations during the Trump administration.
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