U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is calling for an investigation into what he says is a “blatant violation” of federal law after Rachael Rollins, the state’s top federal prosecutor, attended a “high-dollar” Democratic fundraiser in Andover featuring the first lady.
Cotton, in a letter obtained exclusively by the Herald, calls on the inspector general for the Department of Justice to launch a probe into a “potential Hatch Act violation” by Rollins.
As the Herald first reported, Rollins attended a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with first lady Jill Biden on Thursday.
When asked if her attendance at the ritzy gathering was breaking the law, she told a Herald reporter: “No.”
The Hatch Act strictly forbids DOJ employees from using their positions to solicit donations for political parties. In some cases, it does allow attending such events.
But Cotton, in his letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, points out that Rollins arrived during “typical business hours,” in a vehicle with government plates and “in her official capacity as United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.”
Cotton goes on to slam Rollins for what he says goes against the spirit of the Hatch Act which is “intended to maintain a politically neutral workplace” — including the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston’s Seaport.
“The Hatch Act expressly prohibits covered federal employees, such as Ms. Rollins, from using their official positions for partisan political purposes, including attending partisan political events in their official capacities,” Cotton writes.
Cotton led the Republican push in the Senate to block Rollins’ U.S. Attorney nomination, but she was narrowly approved with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote in December.
In Cotton’s letter, he adds Rollins is supposed to “act as a nonpartisan law enforcement official” as her office goes after criminals from all sides of the political spectrum.
Cotton ends by telling the IG that “given the apparent blatant violation in this case, I urge you to conduct an investigation into Ms. Rollins’s conduct.”
The DOJ states the Hatch Act applies to all agency employees — but the higher up the ranks an employee goes, the more scrutiny they face.
“Political activity is activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group. The statute carries serious penalties including REMOVAL from federal employment,” the DOJ Hatch Act summary states.
Political appointees, and that would include Rollins who was nominated by President Biden, are “further restricted” from campaign activities, the DOJ adds.
A White House pool report from the Andover fundraiser states “FLOTUS (Jill Biden) arrived at the residence of Ashraf and Shamim Dahod at 4:40 p.m. EST for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.”
There was no mention of Rollins in the pool reporter’s summary, but the Herald observed her attend during the 4 o’clock hour. She left in an SUV with government plates.