WASHINGTON (AP).- President Joe Biden’s chief of staff broke the law retweeting a political message on his government Twitter account and was sent a warning letter, the Office of the Special Counsel said in a statement. Top aide Ron Klein “made a mistake this time” and will be more careful, the White House said Thursday.
The memo, dated Wednesday, said Klein was in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits public officials from using their official roles to influence elections, including to support candidates, while acting in their official capacity. On May 22, Klein reviewed a message from STRIKE PAC, a Democratic group, about providing Americans with infant formula. But the message also included an encouragement to “Ship your Democrats the goods today.”
Klein removed the retweet upon learning of the complaint. No disciplinary action will be taken, and the office, an independent state watchdog that monitors Hatch Act violations, considers the matter closed. Klein was warned to be more careful in the future.
The conservative legal group America First Legal, led by Donald Trump adviser Stephen Miller, protested the tweet and demanded an investigation.
Miller and at least a dozen other former Trump administration officials repeatedly violated that same lawWithout consequence and with Trump’s approval, as part of the “willful disregard for the Hatch Act,” the Special Counsel’s office found in 2021. The office investigated comments made by Trump officials leading up to the 2020 presidential election, including at the Republican National Convention. , which was held at the White House, a major break from historical norms.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said that “we are not perfect, but our violations were few.”
“Ron is very careful and takes the Hatch Act very seriously in his media appearances and use of Twitter, but this time he got it wrong,” he said. “He corrected it as soon as it was pointed out and took the warning to be more careful more seriously.”
Jean-Pierre often cites the Hatch Act to deflect political issues during news briefings. He was asked earlier this week if Biden was doing everything he could to get Democrats across the finish line in the Nov. 8 election.
“I have to be careful what I say because we respect the Hatch Act here in this administration,” he said.