The FBI's boss is under investigation for possible Hatch Act violations
by John Solomon and Sara A. Carter
WATCH | Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is being investigated by the Office of U.S. Special Counsel for violating The Hatch Act that prohibits FBI agents from campaigning in partisan races.
The Office of U.S. Special Counsel, the government’s main whistleblower agency, is investigating whether FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s activities supporting his wife Jill’s Democratic campaign for Virginia state senate in 2015 violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against FBI agents campaigning in partisan races.
Related:Did the FBI retaliate against Michael Flynn?
The agency’s probe was prompted by a complaint in April from a former FBI agent who forwarded social media photos showing McCabe wearing a T-shirt supporting his wife’s campaign during a public event and then posting a photo on social media urging voters to join him in voting for his wife.
“I am voting for Jill because she is the best wife ever,” McCabe put on a sign that he photographed himself holding. The photo was posted on her social media page a few days before the election, in response to Dr. Jill McCabe's plea to “help me win” by posting photos expressing reasons why voters should vote for her, according to the complaint.
Other social media photos in the complaint showed McCabe's minor daughter campaigning with her mother, wearing an FBI shirt, and McCabe voting with his wife at a polling station.
The Hatch Act prohibits FBI employees from engaging "in political activity in concert with a political party, a candidate for partisan political office, or a partisan political group."
It defines prohibited political activity as "any activity directed at the success or failure of a partisan group or candidate in a partisan election."
An ethics expert told Circa the photos raised legitimate questions about McCabe's compliance with the law.
OSC declined comment except to confirm the Hatch Act complaint was still active and under review. FBI officials and McCabe, through the FBI press office, declined comment.
The FBI has said previously McCabe consulted ethics experts to ensure he didn't do anything improper with his wife's campaign and that the agent didn't believe he had ever campaigned or helped his wife's election. That claim, however, is now being challenged by the former FBI agent's complaint.
Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office released to Circa under the Freedom of Information Act documents showing McCabe attended a meeting with his wife and the governor on a Saturday in March 2015 specifically to discuss having Jill McCabe run for state Senate in Virginia as a Democrat.
"This is a candidate recruitment meeting. McCabe is seriously considering running against State Senator Dick Black. You have been asked to close the deal," the briefing memo for McAuliffe read.
Included in the governor's briefing package was a copy of McCabe's FBI biography. The biography made clear that Andrew McCabe was a senior executive who at the time oversaw the FBI’s Washington field office that among many tasks supervised investigations in northern Virginia.
At the time of the meeting, published reports indicate agents in the Washington field office were involved in both a probe of McAuliffe and of the governor’s close friend, Hillary Clinton’s and her private email account.
The Hatch Act poster hanging inside FBI offices to urge compliance clearly states that an FBI employee "may not knowingly solicit or discourage the political activity of any person with business before the agency."
FBI sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said agents were specifically concerned that McCabe's meeting with McAuliffe about supporting Jill McCabe's campaign constituted a solicitation of a person with business before the bureau.
Check out the Hatch Act poster advising FBI employees how to comply with the law and the social media photos included in the Hatch Act complaint..
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