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Posted at 04:57 PM ET, 09/12/2012

HHS chief Sebelius runs into Hatch Act trouble; special counsel reminds fed workers of restrictions

(Mark Wilson - Getty Images)
In an example of just how hard it can be for administration types to thread the needle in balancing campaign and official remarks, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently ran afoul of the Hatch Act, the law meant to separate the two.

Sebelius was the guest of honor and keynote speaker at a February gala thrown by the Human Rights Campaign in Charlotte. As ABC News reported, she classified the trip as part of her “official duties,” but she got in trouble when she meandered away from prepared remarks and put in a plug for President Obama and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who is running for governor.

Should have stuck to the prompter.

HHS “retroactively reclassified the event as political,” a report from the Office of Special Counsel states — though only after media inquiries — and Sebelius paid the government back for the cost of the trip. The OSC told Obama that the incident “offers an opportunity to remind federal employees of the complex Hatch Act restrictions.”

So it’s a teachable moment.

By  |  04:57 PM ET, 09/12/2012

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