Castro should have known better…
The Hatch Act of 1939, officially An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch, from engaging in some forms of political activity. The law was named for Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico. It was most recently amended in 2012.
President Barack Obama signed the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 on December 28, 2012. It modified penalties under the Hatch Act to allow for disciplinary actions in addition to removal for federal employees; clarified the applicability to the District of Columbia of provisions that cover state and local governments; limited the prohibition on state and local employees running for elective office to employees whose salary is paid completely by federal loans or grants.
Investigation finds Castro violated Hatch Act in interview with Katie Couric
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, rumored to be on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s shortlist for vice president, violated federal election law when discussing and endorsing Clinton during an April interview with Yahoo News.
According to a report from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, first reported by Buzzfeed, Castro violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees (and cabinet members) from using their official position to influence an election.
During the April 4 interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Castro “impermissibly 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 OSC said in a letter to President Obama.
Per the letter to President Obama, Castro’s 18-minute interview with Couric began with approximately seven minutes of discussion about HUD-related issues, including: “ConnectHome, a HUD program to expand Internet access to families in public housing. He then discussed the affordable housing crisis in America, home ownership, the difficulties of getting a home loan, and the National Housing Trust Fund, another HUD initiative.”
According to the OSC, Castro conducted the interview from HUD’s broadcast studio, with the official HUD seal “visible behind him.”
And in the eyes of the OSC, those factors, plus the fact that Couric repeatedly referred to Castro as “Mr. Secretary” throughout the interview, helped determine that the interview qualified as an official duty of the HUD Secretary.
But after roughly seven minutes, Couric said to Castro, “Mr. Secretary, let’s move on to politics,” and asked Castro about his endorsement of Clinton.
Castro responded by saying, “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.”
During the interview, Castro went on to discuss Clinton’s achievements as Secretary of State, her prospect and potential as president, as well as criticizing the Republican Party and its candidates, including soon-to-be presidential nominee Donald Trump.
According to the OSC, Couric asked Castro what made him most fearful about Donald Trump being president.
Per the OSC letter, Castro responded that “Mr. Trump is not prepared for the office of president because Mr. Trump does not understand what leadership or being president is about, or the basic functions of our government or its relationships with other countries.”