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Tipsheet

Demonizing 'Mega MAGA Republicans' Comes Back to Bite Karine Jean-Pierre

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

We're so often used to hearing from White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that she can't speak to questions about the upcoming 2024 election, as she has to be careful about abiding by the Hatch Act. Even President Joe Biden's schedule was something she was too cautious to discuss. As it turns out, though, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined that Jean-Pierre was in violation of the Hatch Act from her remarks in 2022 with regards to the midterm elections, according to NBC News. 

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The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from using their office to engage in certain forms of political activity, but Jean-Pierre was found to have done just that during a press briefing on November 2, 2022, right before the 2022 midterm elections. A Hatch Act complaint was filed on November 3, as reported by Karen Townsend of our sister site Hot Air at the time. 

Jean-Pierre made the remarks in question to start the briefing that day, before being asked any questions:

Okay, as you all know, the President has long talked about our nation being at an inflection point.  He has been clear: Democracy is under assault, and we cannot pretend otherwise.

The President will continue to call attention to the threat to democratic integrity and to public safety posed by those who deny the documented truth about election results and those who seek to undermine public faith in our system of government.

Unfortunately, we have seen mega MAGA Republican officials who don’t believe in the rule of law.  They refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections, and they fan the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn.

It remains important for the President to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy.  He believes other leaders of both parties on both sides have a responsibility to communicate this very clearly as well.

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Jean-Pierre was often demonizing the president's political opponents with terms like "MAGA Republicans" or, in this case, "mega MAGA Republicans," especially leading up to the midterm elections. 

For such a violation, Jean-Pierre has received "a warning letter." As NBC News writes:

Despite finding Jean-Pierre in violation of the law, the Office of Special Counsel “decided to close this matter without further action,” Galindo‐Marrone wrote in last week's letter to Protect the Public’s Trust, noting that the White House Counsel’s Office “did not at the time believe that Ms. Jean‐Pierre’s remarks were prohibited.”

“We have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and have instead issued Ms. Jean‐Pierre a warning letter,” Galindo‐Marrone wrote.

“[I]t is unclear whether OSC’s contrary analysis regarding the use of ‘MAGA Republicans’ was ever conveyed to Ms. Jean‐Pierre,” Galindo‐Marrone added.

In response to a request for comment, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement: “As has been made clear throughout the administration, we take the law seriously and uphold the Hatch Act. We are reviewing this opinion.”

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Despite claims from the White House spokesperson that "[a]s has been made clear throughout the administration, we take the law seriously and uphold the Hatch Act," it's not very "clear" at all, since Jean-Pierre is not the only member of the Biden administration to have been found in violation. As Spencer reported at the time, Health & Human Services Sec. Xavier Becerra was informed by the OSC in April that he had been in violation when "expressing support for Senator Alex Padilla's reelection while speaking in his official capacity at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Annual Awards Gala on September 15, 2022."

When deviating from his prepared remarks, Becerra had spoken about Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), saying "To my brother, my friend and Senator, and someone I will be voting for in a little bit more than a month, Alex Padilla, thank you so much, Senator, for being there for all of us. We are proud to have you as our Senator."

It was also revealed last October that then White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain had also been in violation with his retweets from his official account in May 2022 that the pro-Democrat Strike PAC. Since the retweets were deleted once he was informed of the violation, the matter was closed without disciplinary action.

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That Jean-Pierre was found to have been in violation has garnered considerable attention on Twitter, with "Hatch Act" currently trending. 

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