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Special Counsel office expanding probe of possible White House Hatch Act violations

[JURIST] The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) [official website] has opened an investigation into whether executive branch employees have improperly engaged in political activity in violation of the Hatch Act [OSC materials], an OSC spokesperson said Tuesday. The Hatch Act prohibits the use of government resources for political purposes, and the OSC has expanded current investigations into a broader probe of "illegal political activities across the executive branch." The new, expanded probe builds on two current investigations: whether politics played an improper role in the 2006 firing of a US Attorney, and whether a presentation [PDF slides] by an aide to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on strategies to aid 2008 Republican candidates given to political appointees at the General Services Administration [official website] in January was improper.

GSA Administrator Lurita Doan [official website] allegedly asked those present at the briefing to consider how the GSA could help Republican candidates in the next round of elections. The OSC will examine whether similar presentations were given at other federal agencies [WashPost report]. The White House has also been criticized in the context of the US Attorney firings [JURIST news archive] after disclosing that at least 21 White House staffers used Republican National Committee e-mail accounts while at work to avoid liability under the Hatch Act. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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