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 PompeoHouse postpones testimony from key Pompeo aide about IG firing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks Pompeo pushes back on Russian bounty reports 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 Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers Democratic senator proposes sanctions against Putin over bounties GOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank 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 McConnellFormer HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest 0B in direct rental assistance' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated House approves .5T green infrastructure plan MORE (R-Ky.) that he did not plan to run for Senate in Kansas, where Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsCook Political Report shifts Montana Senate race to 'toss up' McConnell plans to stay on as Senate GOP leader even if he loses majority When will Americans — all Americans — declare that enough is enough? 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.