Karine Jean-Pierre and top Biden spokesman inappropriately used their roles to influence elections with attacks on ‘MAGA’ Republicans, government watchdog rules
- Karine Jean-Pierre and Andrew Bates warned about their use of 'MAGA'
- The government watchdog agency said it is a campaign slogan
- “We take the law seriously and are enforcing the Hatch Act,” a White House official told DailyMail.com
White House spokespeople Karine Jean-Pierre and Andrew Bates violated the Hatch Act when they were warned against using the word “MAGA” to describe certain Republicans, a government watchdog agency said Friday.
The independent Office of Special Counsel said the two took actions “contrary” to official guidance on the law when they rejected Republicans' “MAGA” budget plan this year.
In their letter, first reported by NBC News, the office notes that the violations occurred days after Jean-Pierre was warned that she had violated the law designed to prevent federal employees from using their offices to influence elections.
This summer, the Office of Special Counsel notified government officials that “MAGA” and similar terms were effectively off-limits for use because they were viewed as campaign-related slogans.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre regularly invokes the Hatch Act when asked campaign questions, but a watchdog agency said she broke the law by using the word “MAGA” to describe Republicans
The ruling came after OCS determined in June that Jean-Pierre violated the Hatch Act when she repeatedly referred to “MAGA Republicans” ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. No action was taken against Jean-Pierre.
'MAGA' is former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan. However, the OSC has indicated that the use of 'MAGAnomics' is permitted.
“We take the law seriously and are enforcing the Hatch Act,” a White House official told DailyMail.com.
Jean-Pierre, Bates and other officials repeatedly cite the Hatch Act in news conferences when refusing to answer reporters' questions about President Joe Biden's reelection campaign or Trump's candidacy.
But Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, and Bates, the deputy White House press secretary, have repeatedly used the word “MAGA” when talking about “extreme MAGA Republicans” and their agenda.
The complaint against the duo was filed by a conservative watchdog group called Protect the Public's Trust, which is led by former Trump administration official Michael Chamberlain.
“Apparently no one is taking the Hatch Act very seriously, at least no one who matters. Ms. Jean-Pierre often mentions it to avoid tough questions, but when she and her deputy received the first warning from OSC, they doubled down,” Chamberlain told NBC News.
“They probably guessed there would be no consequences, and the OSC appears to have proven them right.”
Several Trump administration figures — including adviser Kellyanne Conway — were found guilty of violating the Hatch Act during Trump's time in office.
At least thirteen former Trump administration officials broke the law by combining their campaigns with their official government duties, a government investigation uncovered in November 2021 found.
Jean-Pierre in particular regularly invokes the Hatch Act.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates at the press podium in March 2022
'MAGA' is former President Donald Trump's campaign slogan
In December 2023, she used it to avoid answering questions about whether Biden would return campaign donations from disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried
“I'm covered by the Hatch Act, which I like to say over and over again, because we believe in the rule of law here,” Jean-Pierre said in response.
In April, she cited the Hatch Act when she declined to comment on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s announcement. that he is challenging President Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination.
And in January, she cited the Hatch Act in declining to answer whether Biden would serve a full second four-year term.
“So let me just say this – I'm not going to comment on the 2024 – he's a candidate,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that she wanted to be careful. “And we follow the Hatch Act, so I want to be very conscious about this.”