HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits she broke federal law

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which said the head of HHS violated federal law in a February speech by using her position to influence the election, Bloomberg reported.

The secretary broke a federal law that prohibits certain political activity by government employees when she called for President Barack Obama's re-election during her keynote speech at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in North Carolina on Feb. 25, OSC concluded.

Although the HHS reclassified the trip as political and reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for her travel expenses, the OSC report said a violation of the Hatch Act still occurred.

Sebelius admitted and apologized for the "mistake" and has since met with ethics experts to prevent future Hatch Act violations, Bloomberg noted.

Even though she regretted making the off-hand political remarks, the head of HHS considered her violation "technical and minor"--not the kinds of violations the Hatch Act is supposed to address, according to her response.

In addition to her election remarks, Sebelius has been fairly vocal about her stance on health reform. Earlier this summer, she said abolishing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be "devastating," echoing similar sentiments last year, when she called repealing health reform a "huge step backward."

For more:
- here's the statement (.pdf)
- read the letter (.pdf)
- read Sebelius' response (.pdf)
- check out the Bloomberg article