Rio Rancho, NM – The Southwest Public Policy Institute (SPPI) announced today that a complaint was filed on behalf of the Institute against Debra Ann Haaland, United States Secretary of the Interior, for alleged violations of the Hatch Act.
The Hatch Act of 1939, An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, includes provisions that prohibit civil service employees in the federal government’s executive branch from engaging in certain forms of political activity.
The law was named for Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico, highlighting an essential connection to Secretary Deb Haaland.
Haaland served as the congresswoman for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district before being nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as Secretary of the Interior.
“Secretary Haaland shares deep roots in New Mexico with the origins of the Hatch Act. She should be well aware of the restrictions placed on her office,” said Patrick Brenner, president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute.
The complaint alleges that Halaand endorsed Representative Teresa Leger Fernandez, the incumbent representing New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district and running for reelection against Alexis Martinez Johnson.
“Any perceived favorable treatment of a partisan candidate by a sitting department head is subject to scrutiny,” Brenner continued. “But we believe that this is a blatant disregard for the provisions set forth by the Hatch Act. We look forward to speedy action taken by the Office of Special Counsel, which confirmed receipt of our complaint.”
The allegations refer to an endorsement of Leger Fernandez by Haaland on the candidate’s Twitter page, referencing an organizing event listing both individuals as attending.
The Honorable Debra Haaland has endorsed a partisan candidate for election, Teresa Leger Fernandez. Representative Leger Fernandez is the incumbent of New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district and is running for reelection. The endorsement is advertised on Representative Leger Fernandez’s Twitter and the New Mexico Democratic Party’s Twitter. See attached screenshots.
The Hatch Act specifically prohibits most federal employees from using their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. Also, while at work, those same employees are prohibited from using any email account or social media to distribute, send, or forward content that advocates for or against a partisan political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.
The complaint was filed on Friday, October 28, 2022.