Feds: HUD Secretary Julián Castro violated Hatch Act in interview regarding Hillary Clinton
By Kelsey Bradshaw Updated 5:26 pm, Monday, July 18, 2016
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HUD Secretary Julián Castro violated the Hatch Act during an April interview with Yahoo News, when he mixed his "personal
political views with officials agency business" by seemingly endorsing Hillary Clinton, according to a report released by U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
Keep clicking to view his response since the report was released.
SAN ANTONIO— A U.S. Office of Special Counsel report released Monday found that Housing
and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro violated the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of some federal employees, during an April interview with Yahoo News.
Castro's statements during the interview, according to a OSC news release, mixed his "personal political views with officials agency business despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity." The department found he violated the act by "advocating for and against presidential candidates while giving a media interview in his official capacity on April 4, 2016," the report states.
RELATED: Former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro being vetted as Hillary Clinton's potential running mate
The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, prohibits employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election, according to the report. The OSC submitted the report and Castro's response to President Barack Obama for "appropriate action."
After receiving an analysis of the interview, Castro sent a letter to the OSC Friday, where he addressed the violation saying, "When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged. Although it was not my intent, I made one here."
Previously, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was found to
have violated the Hatch Act in 2012 when she made an off-hand remark at a gay rights group's
In the April interview, the former San Antonio mayor, who is reportedly being vetted to be Hillary Clinton's vice president, tells Katie Couric, "Now, taking off my HUD hat for a second and speaking individually, it is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful and prepared candidate for president that we have this year."
He went on to discuss Clinton's accomplishments before criticizing the Republican party and its candidates for president.
He also went on to say that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, was not prepared to hold the position. Couric also referred to Castro as "Mr. Secretary" during the interview, where the official HUD seal appeared behind him.
According to the OSC report, Castro said at the time of the interview he believed "he was acting in accordance with the Hatch Act." Since July 2014, the beginning of his appointment, Castro was
Castro, according to the report, has since said:
"Based on the information I received regarding the interview in advance of the meeting, I expected that Ms. Couric's questions would focus primarily on HUD's activities and the growth of cities. When, during the live broadcast, I received the direct questions regarding specific candidates, I used the inelegant phrase "taking off my HUD hat" to indicate my intention to respond in my personal capacity, and not as a representative of HUD. My aim was to make clear to anyone viewing the broadcast that, when answering those direct questions regarding candidates, I was not acting in my official capacity ... I now have watched the recording of the interview and appreciate that, while my intention was to avoid any blurring of roles and make clear that I was not speaking as a representative of HUD, that fact may not have been obvious to viewers. At the time, I believed that, so long as I clearly stated that I was not speaking in my official capacity, my actions would be consistent with Hatch Act requirements. I now understand that the mixed-topic interview, even with a proviso, is problematic."
Castro also expressed regret about his actions during the interview and never intended to violate any federal law, according to the report.