Ethics Watchdog Files Second Hatch Act Complaint Against Secretary Granholm
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
Evidence Shows Secretary Granholm Used Official Social Media Account to Advocate Citizens Vote a Certain Way
Washington, D.C.— November 3, 2021— The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), has requested the Office of Special Counsel investigate whether Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm violated the Hatch Act by using an official social media account to advocate that citizens vote a certain way.
The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election, including using his or her official title while participating in political activity. Specifically, Executive Branch Agency Secretaries are prohibited from political activity when appearing in their official capacity and from using taxpayer-funded resources for political activity. Advocating for or against a ballot initiative has been included in Executive Agencies definition of political activities under the Hatch Act, and the use of an official social media account is considered a taxpayer-funded resource.
Present case facts:
Jennifer Granholm is the Secretary of Energy, a federal agency within the executive branch, and thus is subject to the Hatch Act.
On October 28, 2021, Secretary Granholm used her official Secretary of Energy Twitter account to urge Maine residents to vote a certain way on a ballot question.
“Question 1” is the most expensive ballot initiative in Maine history – PAC’s have raised over $71 million supporting/ opposing it.
The advocacy was done through an official government resource and on an official government account, implying a government endorsement.
Endorsing from a taxpayer-funded resource in an official government capacity is an apparent Hatch Act violation.
“Just weeks after we filed a complaint against Secretary Granholm for violating the Hatch Act for making political remarks while being interviewed in her official capacity, she has apparently violated the law again. This time Secretary Granholm used her official government Twitter account to tell Mainers how to vote on a ballot initiative. Not only is this an abuse of a taxpayer-funded account, but by her weighing-in in an official government communication it appears the federal government has endorsed the initiative. These abuses must end so public trust can be restored in our government officials,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the Granholm complaint can be found by clicking here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/