Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a government watchdog group, recently filed an ethics complaint against White House press secretary Jen Psaki who made a comment about former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He is a Democrat politician currently running for his old post back. While early voting is currently underway in Virginia, first lady Jill Biden is campaigning with McAuliffe and President Joe Biden is expected to visit in the coming days.
The watch group CREW claimed that Psaki violated the Hatch Act and appeared to endorse McAuliffe during a White House briefing. The Hatch Act is what prevents any federal employees from engaging in political work while they perform their official duties.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help former Gov. McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing,” Psaki said in response to a reporter’s question about Virginia’s Nov. 2 election.
Psaki went on to share in a CN interview that she should have used the word “he” instead of “we” while talking about the president’s support for McAuliffe and that she needs to be careful about the amount of political analysis she offers in her official capacity. She said she takes ethics “very seriously” and will choose her words more carefully moving forward.
The office of Special Counsel had been tasked with enforcing the Hatch Act during the Trump era and after many calls for former President Donald Trump to fire his senior counselor Kellyanne Conway for repeatedly ignoring the rules and violating the law.
CREW president Noah Bookbinder said that Psaki’s complaint does not come close to the “offenses” of the Trump administration but that the Biden administration should not be going down that path. He said they should not be “casual” about compliance with important ethics laws as they have filed complaints against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kayleigh McEnany, Hogan Gidley, Mark Meadows, and others in the Trump admin.
“Why does the media not hold @PressSec accountable for potential Hatch Act violations? She has twice advocated for political candidates from the podium. There is no problem in engaging in First Amendment political activity, but it must be done separate and apart from the podium,” former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted.
The Biden Administration clearly has no issues with ethics as Ex-Obama ethics chief Walter Shaub has even called out Psaki for brushing off important questions. Psaki has refused to answer any questions about the identity of the buyers for Hunter Biden’s art, which Shaub has called a big red flag for ethics.
It was reported that the president’s son’s prints sold for $75,000 apiece and that the buyers would be vetted by a team of lawyers. Psaki has pushed back that the president is proud of his son and that they should move on to other topics and things happening around the world. This has been a major red flag as many believe that the buyers could try to politically influence the purchase.
Shaub said he finds it “disappointing” for Psaki to refuse to answer legitimate questions and that the White House believes the public has no right to ask about ethics. He said over the last four years that these questions “have never been more important” and that even though it’s not a popular opinion, these things matter.
The Biden Administration spent an entire year campaigning on transparency and honesty just to turn around on everything they’ve said. It’s hard to believe anything a Biden administration official says at this point.