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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

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Washington, D.C. 20036-4505


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    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced that it had reached a settlement agreement with Mr. Michael M. Hash, Acting Administrator, Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), Department of Health and Human Services. Under the agreement, in exchange for his resignation, effective today, OSC has agreed not to pursue disciplinary action against Mr. Hash for violating the Hatch Act’s prohibition on soliciting funds for a partisan political purpose. 

    Mr. Hash began working for the federal government in 1998, when he was appointed as HCFA’s Deputy Administrator. At that time, Mr. Hash received an orientation package of materials that included educational publications from both OSC and HHS regarding the Hatch Act and its prohibitions. The OSC Hatch Act brochure, as well as the HHS publication, specifically identified the hosting of partisan political fundraising events as prohibited activities. Mr. Hash advised OSC that he had received Hatch Act educational material when he became a federal employee, but had not reviewed it.

    A fundraiser for a Congressional candidate, a personal friend of Mr. Hash, was held at Mr. Hash’s house on May 4, 2000. The written invitations to the fundraiser featured Mr. Hash as a co-host. Moreover, two subordinate employees, who were also friends of Mr. Hash, were among those invited to the event at his home. 

    Approximately, a week and half after the fundraiser, Mr. Hash received a request from HHS to respond to a letter from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee regarding campaign activities by HHS political appointees. The Senate Committee’s request prompted Mr. Hash to consult with HCFA’s Designated Ethics Officer (DEO). After consulting with the DEO, Mr. Hash voluntarily reported his violation to OSC.

    Mr. Hash has fully cooperated with the OSC throughout its investigation. In light of Mr. Hash’s cooperation, OSC has agreed to settle this case without seeking further action.

    Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan said, “With a wave of new political appointees about to enter government service, it’s important to get the message out that federal employees, political and career, must use the many opportunities available to them to learn about the Hatch Act’s requirements.” Special Counsel Kaplan emphasized that “while OSC will prosecute violations of the Hatch Act, it prefers to help federal employees avoid such violations in the first place.” Kaplan said, “We are here to help educate all federal employees, whether they are political appointees or career civil servants, about what they can or cannot do in terms of political activity. They can call our office or go to our website. They can also go to the designated agency ethics officer at their agency to obtain information about the Hatch Act.”

    Special Counsel Kaplan stated that it is both “unfortunate and unnecessary for anyone to violate the Hatch Act due to ignorance or misunderstanding.” She expressed appreciation for Mr. Hash’s cooperation in OSC’s investigation and his willingness to resolve the matter without the need for OSC to pursue formal disciplinary action.