Did Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis Violate the Hatch Act?

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, it appears that former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis may have violated the Hatch Act—which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty—by soliciting funds for President Obama’s reelection campaign during work hours.  

The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darell Issa (R-Calif.), broke the story when it released a voicemail of Solis calling a Department of Labor subordinate “off the record” to get help for Obama’s 2012 campaign. The release of the voicemail came as a result of a larger investigation into the Obama administration’s political activity during the 2012 election cycle.

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon gives us the content of the voicemail:

“Hi—this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here—Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 P.M.”

The Department’s response to such a blatant violation of the Hatch Act might also be quite discouraging to those who value nonpartisanship in the federal bureaucracy. In a statement, a spokesman for Solis said:

“Solis knows that the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from personally soliciting campaign donations. She believes that her participation in the (fundraiser) was proper and does not believe that she has done anything illegal or improper.”

This kind of blatant partisanship is even more disturbing because unelected bureaucrats like Solis now legislate more than Congress, by enacting regulations. That lack of accountability is deeply undemocratic. But, as many on the Left might claim, that’s the price we have to pay for having government” as in “the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” Apparently those “things we do together” now includes civil servants campaigning for politicians on the taxpayer dime.

Yet, there may be some good news here: The epidemic of lawlessness within the Obama administration provides a strong argument against a bloated federal bureaucracy, one that every news-consuming American can take to heart in some way. Regardless of one’s political or philosophical predisposition, I think everyone can agree that there wouldn’t be as many instances of these abuses if our bureaucracy was not as extensive and powerful as it is today.