Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro violated a law that prohibits federal employees from making personal political statements while appearing in an official capacity, according to a new report.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) released a report on Monday concluding that Castro, considered a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE, violated the Hatch Act during a Yahoo News interview with Katie Couric on April 4 by sharing his views of the presidential candidates.
“Secretary Castro’s statements during the interview impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official agency business, despite his efforts to clarify that some answers were being given in his personal capacity,” the OSC report said.
The 41-year-old, who has been a rising Democratic star since his rousing speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, sat down with Clinton last week in Washington as she narrows her search for a running mate.
Federal employees are allowed to make political remarks when speaking in their personal capacity, but not when using their official title or when speaking about agency business.
During the interview, Castro discussed HUD programs, professed his support for Clinton and called presumptive GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE unprepared to be president.
Castro spoke to Couric in HUD’s broadcast studio in Washington with the official HUD seal visible behind him.
The OSC report noted that Castro stated that he never intended to violate, or to be perceived as violating, any federal law.
At one point, Castro said: "Now taking off my HUD hat for a second and just speaking individually, it is very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, thoughtful and prepared candidate for president that we have this year.”
He touted her accomplishments as secretary of State, and then criticized the Republican Party's candidates for the White House, the report said.
Castro acknowledged that his segue from a personal to a professional capacity wasn't clear.
"My aim was to make clear to anyone viewing the broadcast that, when answering those direct questions regarding candidates, I was not acting in my official capacity," he said in the report.
"I now have watched the recording of the interview and appreciate that, while my intention was to avoid any blurring of roles and make clear that I was not speaking as a representative of HUD, that fact may not have been obvious to viewers."
Castro wrote in his letter to the independent federal agency, "When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged.
"Although it was not my intent, I made one here."
He added: "I now understand that the mixed-topic interview, even with a proviso, is problematic."
The report and Castro’s response were sent to President Obama on Monday, the OSC said.
The OSC said it conducted an investigation after receiving a complaint about the interview but didn’t shed light on who noted Castro’s mistake.
Because Castro acknowledged the mistake, no additional action is expected.