It’s illegal in some places to eat peanuts in church. And in some states it's illegal to sell beer on Sundays. But could it really be illegal to talk politics in the White House press briefing room?
Shocking as it may be to some hard-nosed Washington operatives, when top White House aides use an official forum like the briefing room or Air Force One to talk about candidates’ standing in the polls, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s record or the latest campaign ad from the Democratic National Committee, they risk violating the Hatch Act, legal experts say.
“There are a number of comments from the podium from both parties that might cross the line” created by the 1939 law, said Scott Coffina, a White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.
“It’s their obligation to make it clear whether they’re speaking in their official capacity as White House staff members, as assistants to the president, or not. If they are in their official capacity, they really can’t get into talking about campaign ads or events,” said Richard Painter, another Bush White House lawyer.
We've covered this topic at Third in "Has the White House broken the Hatch Act?" and I think that the press really needs to be covering this topic. Glad to see Gerstein has. It's an important topic and one that, my opinion, the press has been repeatedly reluctant to pursue.
But that's been the case on anything dealing with Princess Barack.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"