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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today sent a report to President Joseph R. Biden detailing how Rachael Rollins, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, willfully violated the Hatch Act on multiple occasions, thereby exhibiting an extraordinary abuse of her power as U.S. Attorney. OSC determined that the violations warrant disciplinary action. Ms. Rollins was provided a copy of the report on April 25, giving her an opportunity to comment. Yesterday, OSC informed Ms. Rollins that this report would be released publicly today. Shortly thereafter, it was reported that Ms. Rollins intends to resign by the end of this week.
Ms. Rollins's first violation arose in July 2022 when, in disregard of legal advice from her own agency, and in violation of the Hatch Act, she attended a political party fundraiser in her official capacity.
Her second violation occurred throughout August and September 2022, when she repeatedly attempted to sabotage the campaign of a political candidate by leaking non-public U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) information to the media to plant a story that the candidate she opposed was facing a DOJ investigation. In its report to the President, OSC characterized this violation as “one of the most egregious Hatch Act violations that OSC has investigated."
Ms. Rollins's violations of the Hatch Act were knowing and willful. The report concludes Ms. Rollins understood that leaking non-public information about a potential investigation of a candidate was wrong, yet she engaged in that wrongful activity for a political purpose. Regarding her attendance at the Democratic National Convention fundraiser, Ms. Rollins was specifically advised on how to avoid violating the Hatch Act, and the report concludes she intentionally ignored that advice and attended the event in her official capacity.
The report states:
“The leak was an extraordinary breach of public trust by a senior government official, which threatens to erode confidence in the integrity of federal law enforcement actions. And her decision to attend a political party fundraiser in her official capacity as U.S. Attorney is directly contrary to one of the central purposes of the Hatch Act—to avoid even the appearance that the federal government is being used to promote a political party or its candidates. Ms. Rollins's multiple knowing, willful, and serious violations unquestionably warrant disciplinary action."
If the Special Counsel determines that disciplinary action should be taken against a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee for violating the Hatch Act, then by statute, OSC's findings “shall be presented to the President for appropriate action." Ms. Rollins is a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee, and OSC has determined that disciplinary action should be taken for her repeated abuse of her official authority as U.S. Attorney for political purposes in violation of the Hatch Act.
In a cover letter to the President, Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner wrote: “Even if Ms. Rollins resigns, which would foreclose the possibility of any disciplinary action, I hope that this report provides an opportunity for you to emphasize to all federal employees the importance of serving the public in a professional and nonpartisan manner. The American people deserve nothing less."
The full report can be found here.