Is KJP Facing Election Interference Scandal By Violating Hatch Act? Of Course Not! 

Bannykh Alexey Vladimirovich /
Bannykh Alexey Vladimirovich /

When President Joe Biden first coined the phrase “mega MAGA Republicans,” it was probably one of his famous verbal fumbles. But the phrase caught on, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took it and repeated it frequently, like a parrot who hears a naughty word and repeats it to everyone walking past his cage. 

When Jean-Pierre first took the podium, America was expecting a massive improvement over “circle back” Jen Psaki. Biden proudly touted her accomplishments, which were notably that she was gay and Black. Little else was known about her other than these achievements, and Jean-Pierre never let a press conference pass without repeating them again and again. 

Known for her cherry-picking of reporters, her argumentative nature with those who dare to give her a tough question, and her expert-level skills with evading the truth or simply making up a convenient one on the spot, Jean-Pierre is a perfect fit for the Biden administration. It takes a special person to distort facts, and she has proven herself more than capable of the job. 

Her verbal gaffes rival the president’s. From her puzzling declaration declaring that “voter suppression” and “high turnout” occurred together in Georgia to her firm stance that Biden has done more to secure the border than any other president, her diversion tactics could be almost cute if they weren’t so frustrating. Her artful dodges include refusing to comment on Biden’s classified documents case, his refusal to work with House Republicans to pass a debt-ceiling deal, and anything related to the current impeachment hearings or Hunter Biden.

Her outright lies have included everything from the cocaine in the White House, framing Florida’s updated African Studies curriculum as an attempt to “block the study of slavery,” and repeatedly referring to “mega MAGA” as dangerous.  

It’s that last one that might cause a little backlash for Jean-Pierre. 

In the months leading up to the midterm elections, Jean-Pierre repeatedly claimed “mega MAGA Republican officials don’t believe in the rule of law” and made negative comments about Republican candidates. The conservative watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust filed a Hatch Act complaint in response, labeling Jean-Pierre’s remarks as an inappropriate effort to sway the vote.  

The Hatch Act is a U.S. federal law that restricts the political activities of federal employees to prevent them from using their positions for partisan purposes. Its purpose is to ensure that government employees remain neutral and impartial in their roles. 

The Office of Special Counsel agreed that Jean-Pierre’s speech was an attempt to influence the upcoming 2022 midterms. The Hatch Act Unit’s leader, Ana Galindo-Marrone, emphasized that Jean-Pierre’s statements, made in her official role, violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against using official authority to affect election outcomes. 

It’s notable that Biden not only coined the phrase but used it repeatedly. Unfortunately, the Hatch Act does not extend to the president or the vice president, leaving him free to speak his mind, however foggy it may be. 

Despite finding Jean-Pierre in breach of the law, the Office of Special Counsel decided to conclude the matter without further action. Galindo-Marrone explained that the White House counsel’s office initially did not see Jean-Pierre’s statements as prohibited, and the agency chose not to pursue disciplinary actions. Instead, they issued a warning letter to Jean-Pierre.  

To be fair, Jean-Pierre is not the only, or even the first, press secretary to come under scrutiny for alleged Hatch Act violations. Naturally, most of the others were under Trump, including Stephanie Grisham, Kayleigh McEnany, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway. 

The violations aren’t limited to press secretaries, however. Rachael Rollins, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and predictably, at least 13 Trump administration officials were flagged for possible Hatch Act violations. 

Jean-Pierre claimed that Republicans adopted “mega Maga” to describe themselves after Biden created the phrase with a derogatory intent. Of course, progressives should know that even in politics, “cultural appropriation” is a no-no. 

It’s entirely possible that an impassioned Jean-Pierre was unaware that her words could be deemed a form of election influence or interference. Her apparent lack of readiness for life on the national, even global, stage is apparent in everything she does, so she may have genuinely thought she was giving Biden props on his clever turn-of-phrase by repeating it. In the end, she received no punishment despite others in her situation being called upon to resign. 

Jean-Pierre will live to dodge questions another day, and the nation will be just a little less informed because of it.