The legacy of the Obama administration will be that it managed to corrupt virtually every institution within the US government and it did so in a remarkably short period of time. If there is a silver lining to this cloud of stench it is that he serves as an object lesson in how fragile are the systems that comprise our federal government. The greatest damage he has done it turn the supposedly apolitical process of governance into a system to arrogate power and to punish anyone who disagrees. When the malefactors are caught, they shamelessly obstruct justice because they know the Attorney General of the United States is a thoroughly compromised man who is reduced to shouting racism when criticized.
One of the gifts we received from our British founders was the idea of an impartial, a disinterested, if you will, civil service. The idea being that while the making of policy was the prerogative of the president, and the making of laws the prerogative of Congress — both of these ostensibly representatives of the people — carrying out those policies and laws was to be done fairly and equitably and, as the British said at the time, “without fear or favor.” In other words, partisanship should not affect the treatment Americans received from the government. An Republican (or Whig) veteran would receive the same benefits and services under a Democrat administration as he would under an administration of his own party. Even under the “spoils system” which predates the current Civil Service the government bureaucracy functioned impartially with the major abuses being addressed by the Pendleton Act of 1883.
During the 1938 elections there were widespread cases of Democrat (funny how this works, isn’t it?) machine operatives using their ability to award Works Progress Administration jobs in order to produce votes for certain candidates. The result was the Hatch Act of 1939 which makes it illegal for federal employees to engage in partisan political activity.
This has been widely ignored by the Obama administration as the IRS has not only conducted investigations of administration opponents but an environment exists where employees on the IRS customer service hotline feel comfortable encouraging taxpayers to vote for Obama.
But a fish, as they say, rots from the head down. Though cabinet secretaries are political appointees, once they assume their position they are forbidden from participating in political activity while acting in their official capacity. Former secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, if you will recall, was cited for a Hatch Act violation when she gave a political speech while representing HHS. An ordinary mortal would have been suspended or fired, but not Sebelius.
While engaging in political activity while on the job or while using your government position may result in only a wrist slap, the real third rail is soliciting campaign contributions. You aren’t allowed to solicit or handle campaign contributions on duty, off duty, in the work place, in your basement, nowhere. An Federal Elections Commission attorney, that would be one of the guys charged with ensuring election “laws” (in the Obama age you sort of have to put that word in scare quotes), was forced to resign
Now, according to a press release from the Office of Special Counsel, an attorney working for the FEC has resigned after admitting to violating the Hatch Act. Under a settlement agreement with the OSC, the unnamed lawyer agreed to resign and is barred from employment within the executive branch for two years.
Despite the restrictions on “further restricted employees,” this person was an active supporter of Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election campaign and posted “dozens” of partisan political tweets that including soliciting campaign contributions to his election campaign. The employee also participated in a Huffington Post internet broadcast via webcam from an FEC facility criticizing Republicans and Obama’s opponent in the campaign, Mitt Romney.
This doesn’t seem to be an anomaly. Today, Congressman Darrell Issa issued a press release in his capacity as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on a flagrant violation of the Hatch Act by former secretary of labor Hilda Solis:
As Director of the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, David Simas, in defiance of a congressional subpoena, failed to appear today to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on taxpayer-funded political campaign activity by government officials, the Committee released an audio recording of then-United States Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis illegally soliciting funds for President Obama’s re-election campaign in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity on official time.
In his opening statement, Chairman Issa played a recording of a message left on the phone of a Labor Department subordinate pressuring the employee to contribute to President Obama’s re-election campaign. The recording subsequently became the subject of a complaint made to the Office of Special Counsel. Then-Labor Secretary Solis says:
“Hi—this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here—Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 p.m. Steven Smith, an attorney, and his staff are helping us [inaudible]. There are a lot of folks that we know that are coming but wanted to ask you if you might help contribute or get other folks to help out. I would encourage you to call this number, [inaudible]–that’s his assistant– at [phone number] and you can call [the attorney] yourself who’s a good friend, an attorney, good friend of mine, at [phone number]. And it’s for a Friday event at La Fonda [inaudible] we’re just trying to raise money to show that we have support here in [inaudible].”
This wasn’t Solis’s only violation of the Hatch Act, but it was her most flagrant (so far as we know) and it was the only one investigated.
What Obama is doing in yoking the federal bureaucracy to the Democrat party, is a direct assault on the customs and traditions of the American government. Unfortunately, Solis is probably beyond the reach of justice. She is no longer in the federal government and would face no meaningful risk of prosecution even if that is possible.
When this administration passes from the scene, the next president should convene a South African style Truth Commission to expose the grotesque abuses of power that have become a way of life under this administration.