(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on April 25, 2014, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to obtain government records related to a June 15, 2010, request for an investigation into possible Hatch Act violations by then-White House staff members Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Office of Special Counsel (Case 1:14-cv-00724)).
The FOIA lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in accordance with a June 27, 2013, FOIA request, seeks the following:
Any and all records concerning, regarding, or related to the request for investigation filed by Judicial Watch with the Hatch Act Unit on June 15, 2010 concerning federal employees Jim Messina and Rahm Emanuel.
Judicial Watch alleges that in 2009 then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and then-deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, on behalf of the Obama administration, both used their position and influence as highly placed federal employees to affect the outcome of federal elections – in direct violation of the Hatch Act, which states that an employee may not “use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago and Messina now runs the Obama White House-allied Organizing for America (OFA) and is a political consultant.
On May 27, 2009, Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak said in an interview with CNN that he intended to challenge Senator Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic Primary. According to a White House memoauthored by White House Counsel Robert Bauer, “efforts were made in June and July of 2009 to determine whether Congressman Sestak would be interested in service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board, which would avoid a divisive Senate primary.” The memo further notes that Emanuel enlisted the help of former President Bill Clinton to raise the executive branch positions with Congressman Sestak. Sestak rebuffed the Obama White House offers and defeated Specter in the primary.
The Colorado Independent reported on August 29, 2009, that Andrew Romanoff planned to challenge Colorado Democratic Senator Michael Bennet in the 2010 Democratic Primary. According to the Associated Press in June 2010, Messina allegedly called Romanoff on September 11, 2009, and suggested that Romanoff’s time might be better spent working for the U.S. Agency for International Development instead of running for the Senate. Romanoff released an email from Messina that same day listing three jobs that “would be available” if Romanoff were not running for the Senate against Bennet. Two of them were with USAID, the other was the position of director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Bennet defeated Romanoff in the primary.
On May 30, 2013, OSC Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner informed Judicial Watch that because Emanuel and Messina had left government employment, “the complaints against Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Messina have been closed without further action.” In a June 28 letter to Lerner Judicial Watch responded that the OSC had failed to take any action throughout the period they had remained federal employees – Emanuel for three months and Messina for seven months, which was a sufficient amount of time after the original complaint had been filed for OSC to have taken action. Judicial Watch also questioned the “rule” under which OSC claimed they do not investigate wrongdoing after employees leave government employment.
Ironically, the Office of Special Counsel against which Judicial Watch has now filed a FOIA lawsuit is charged with investigating charges against federal agencies that have allegedly violated FOIA regulations. According to 5 U.S. Code § 552, “the Special Counsel shall … conduct an investigation of any allegation concerning …arbitrary or capricious withholding of information prohibited under [FOIA] …”
“It is shameful that the Office of Special Counsel, which is supposed to enforce corruption and transparency laws, is covering up this Obama bribery scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is corrupt and illegal to offer federal jobs to help political campaigns as the Obama White House did (with the help of the ethically-challenged Bill Clinton).”