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Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A conservative group is filing a Hatch Act complaint against Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge for political comments she made at the White House last week.

Why it matters: The group, Americans for Public Trust, is signaling that it will use the Hatch Act, which forbids overt political activities by senior federal employees, to cause potential ethics problems for President Biden's Cabinet.

  • "The American people are entitled to trust in their government, knowing that political opining has no place during the performance of official business duties," the complaint reads.
  • The group is asking the Office of Special Counsel "to investigate this matter and any potential violations of the Hatch Act and standards of government employees."

The backdrop: At the White House briefing last week, Fudge offered her commentary on who might be a good 2022 Senate candidate in her home state of Ohio and mentioned two Democrats: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Rep. Tim Ryan.

  • "I think we have a good shot at it. I know people have written off Ohio. I haven't written off Ohio. I believe we can win the Senate race," she said.
  • On Friday, she admitted that she should not have talked politics from the White House podium.
  • "I acknowledge that I should have stuck with my first instinct and not answered the question," she said in a statement to the Washington Post.

Flashback: In 2019, the Office of Special Counsel, which oversees federal personnel, ruled that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, calling her a "repeat offender" and demanding that she be fired.

  • "As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway's violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions," the OSC wrote.
  • More than a dozen other former Trump administration officials were also found to have violated the Hatch Act, including trade adviser Peter Navarro.
  • Trump did not terminate Conway or Navarro or take any known disciplinary action. Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also downplayed the Hatch Act after criticism of the White House hosting the Republican National Convention, insisting that "nobody outside of the Beltway really cares."

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.