A U.S. Office of Special Counsel report released Monday found that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro violated the Hatch Act, which restricts the political activity of some federal employees, during an April interview with Yahoo News.
Castro's statements during the interview, according to a OSC news release, mixed his "personal political views with officials agency business despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity." The department found he violated the act by "advocating for and against presidential candidates while giving a media interview in his official capacity on April 4, 2016," the report states.
The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, prohibits employees from using their official authority or influence to affect the outcome of an election, according to the report. The OSC submitted the report and Castro's response to President Barack Obama for "appropriate action."
After receiving an analysis of the interview, Castro sent a letter to the OSC Friday, where he addressed the violation saying, "When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged. Although it was not my intent, I made one here."
Previously, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was found to have violated the Hatch Act in 2012 when she made an off-hand remark at a gay rights group's gala about who should be North Carolina's next governor. Sebelius personally reimbursed the U.S. Treasury for all travel expenses to North Carolina, which resolved the violation.
In the April interview, the former San Antonio mayor, who is reportedly being vetted to be Hillary Clinton's vice president, tells Katie Couric, "Now, taking off my HUD hat for a second and speaking individually, it is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful and prepared candidate for president that we have this year."