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Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips

Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips
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A government watchdog found "no evidence" that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoArmenia and Azerbaijan say they will implement ceasefire agreement Monday Entire Nigerian police force mobilized after days of violent protests that have killed at least 69 Hillicon Valley: Treasury sanctions Russian group accused of targeting critical facilities | Appeals court rules Uber, Lyft must comply with labor laws | Biden: Countries that target US elections will 'pay a price' MORE violated a federal law governing political activities with trips he took to Kansas last year. 

The disclosure was made on Thursday by Pompeo when he sent a letter to Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Kasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' MORE (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, that included a copy of the Office of Special Counsel's (OSC) report, and then also sent a copy of the letters to a group of reporters. 

"OSC has no evidence to conclude that you violated the Hatch Act. Therefore, we are closing this matter without further action," the office wrote in a letter sent to Pompeo dated Jan. 21 but released on Thursday.

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The OSC, as part of its determination, noted reports that Pompeo had recently told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Trump looms over Ernst's tough reelection fight in Iowa Democratic senator votes against advancing Amy Coney Barrett nomination while wearing RBG mask MORE (R-Ky.) that he did not plan to run for Senate in Kansas, where Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP's campaign arm releases first ad targeting Bollier in Kansas The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden hit campaign trail in Florida National Republicans will spend to defend Kansas Senate seat MORE (R) is retiring at the end of the year. 

"OSC is closing this matter, but reserves the right to reopen its investigation pending any new developments," the office added.

The letter was not released publicly at the time. The OSC told The Hill earlier this month that it had opened a case at the request of Menendez, but declined to comment on its status. It added that it "generally does not make public the results" of the investigations, but instead shares the findings with the complainant and the subject of the complaint. 

In October 2019, Menendez requested the Office of Special Counsel investigate if Pompeo's trips violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that governs political activities. 

“I ... ask that you review his travel and his interactions in Kansas closely, and determine whether any violations have occurred or additional guidance to the Department or the Secretary may be warranted,” Menendez wrote. 

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Menendez then told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he had not received a response to his October request or a December follow up — a disclosure that appeared to prompt Pompeo's letter to Menendez on Thursday. 

Pompeo, in a letter shared with The Hill, accused Menendez of "hackery" and attempted character assassination. 

"The OSC response to your hackery makes clear your continued effort to politicize legitimate and important diplomatic and national security activity was without merit," Pompeo wrote.