By: Stacy M. Brown / NNPA

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, has been found to have violated the Hatch Act, according to the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel (OSC).

Jean-Pierre, the first Black and first openly gay person to serve as press secretary, received a warning letter after using the term “mega MAGA” from the briefing room podium, an action deemed inappropriate and partisan.

The Hatch Act is a federal law that prevents government officials from engaging in partisan activities or influencing elections. Jean-Pierre’s violation occurred when she referred to “mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law” during a press briefing, as stated in the letter from the OSC.

Michael Chamberlain, a former member of the Trump administration and the organization’s director, filed the complaint and claimed that Jean-Pierre’s use of the phrase was an improper attempt to sway the vote.

In a letter addressed to Chamberlain, Ana Galindo-Marrone, the chief of the Hatch Act Unit at OSC, stated, “OSC has investigated your allegation and concluded that Ms. Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act. However, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and have instead issued Ms. Jean-Pierre a warning letter.”

Galindo-Marrone further explained that Jean-Pierre’s references to “MAGA Republicans” were made to generate opposition to Republican candidates, constituting political activity and a violation of the Hatch Act.

The letter also revealed that, at the time, the White House Counsel’s Office did not think Jean-Pierre’s remarks violated the Hatch Act.

It remains unclear whether the OSC’s analysis was ever conveyed to Jean-Pierre.
Throughout her tenure, Jean-Pierre has been cautious to avoid Hatch Act violations, refusing to answer political questions during more than 40 White House press briefings or gaggles.

However, previous members of the Biden administration, including former chief of staff Ron Klain and former press secretary Jen Psaki, have faced similar allegations of Hatch Act violations.

The White House spokesman, Andrew Bates, stated they are reviewing the OSC’s opinion and emphasized their commitment to upholding the law.

Jean-Pierre defended herself in a statement to reporters, stating that she had received approval to use the terminology at the time.

She also noted that the warning letter was issued for something she said months ago, making it retroactive.

In response to the controversy, a Biden administration official told reporters that the Trump White House frequently used the term “Make America Great Again” for official purposes, with nearly 2,000 references on the official Trump White House website.

According to a report released by the OSC in November 2021, thirteen senior Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act.

The term “mega-MAGA” and similar variations were commonly used from the White House briefing room podium in the lead-up to the 2022 midterm elections.

The Biden administration sought to draw distinctions from Trump-aligned factions within the GOP.

Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn addressed the decision to utilize the term, explaining that while she did not create it herself, she was involved in adopting the term as the White House adopted a more aggressive approach.

Dunn clarified that the term “MAGA” emerged from research and listening to discussions about Republican elected officials and their agendas.

She further stated that adding “mega” and “ultra” was intended to improve the effectiveness of the shorthand.