U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge violated the Hatch Act while discussing the 2022 Senate race in Ohio in March, the Office of Special Counsel, an independent federal investigative agency reportedly determined.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from participating in political activity.
When asked about the upcoming Ohio Senate race during a March White House briefing, Fudge mentioned that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley were considering running and said, "they’re both friends. I think we have a good shot at it. I know people have written off Ohio. I haven’t written off Ohio. I believe we can win the Senate race," Politico reported.
Earlier she declined to answer a reporter who asked about whom she thought should replace her open congressional seat in the state.
Fudge’s violation appears to be the first for the Biden administration, according to Politico.
Americans for Public Trust, a conservative watchdog group, filed a complaint over her comments, asking the Office of Special Counsel to investigate.
The day after Fudge weighed in on the Senate race, she issued a statement acknowledging she shouldn’t have answered the question. "I take these things seriously and I want to assure the American people that I am focused on meeting the needs of our country," she said, according to Politico.
Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of OSC’s Hatch Act unit, said in a letter to Americans for Public Trust the agency had issued a warning to Fudge and counseled her about the violation and had closed the matter since she showed remorse in her statement, Politico reported.
"Please note that Secretary Fudge has been advised that if in the future she engages in prohibited political activity we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law that could result in further action," Galindo-Marrone wrote.
Several Trump administration officials also violated the act during his term, including former senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and former trade adviser Peter Navarro. No Trump officials faced serious consequences.
HUD did not immediately return Fox News' after-hours request for comment.