U.S. Office of Special Counsel Identifies No Inappropriate Activity at New White House Political Office
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released a new letter from the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), the independent federal agency charged with investigating Hatch Act violations.
This letter, signed by the head of that office, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner, explains that OSC reviewed all of the correspondence between Chairman Issa and the White House regarding the new White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach (OPSO), which was established six months ago.
Based on that review, the Special Counsel concluded:
- “[I]t appears that the White House adhered to OSC guidance in determining the scope of activity for OPSO.”
- “OPSO appears to be operating in a manner that is consistent with Hatch Act restrictions.”
- “OSC has not received any allegations that Assistant to the President David Simas or anyone in OPSO has violated the Hatch Act.”
- “I have no reason to believe that OPSO’s activities exceed those set forth in formal communications between White House lawyers and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.”
Chairman Issa originally invited the Special Counsel to testify at the Committee’s hearing on July 16. Two days before that hearing, she submitted a written statement indicating that she planned to testify that her office had identified no evidence of improprieties.
Chairman Issa cut that hearing short, however, preventing her from testifying.
On July 11, Issa issued a unilateral subpoena to compel public testimony from David Simas, a senior advisor to the President and the Director of OPSO, despite the fact that neither the Committee nor the Special Counsel had identified any evidence of inappropriate activity by Simas or the office he directs.
Cummings has criticized Issa for his recent “subpoena binge” after House Speaker John Boehner took the Benghazi investigation away from the Oversight Committee and transferred it to the new Select Committee.
In 2011, soon after Issa became Chairman, he foreshadowed his current actions against the White House, stating that they would be "good theater."
Click here to read the letter from the Special Counsel.