U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL REACHES
DISCIPLINARY ACTION SETTLEMENT IN HATCH ACT CASE INVOLVING ACTING HCFA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/15/00
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
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.