Harry Reid’s Hatch Act Hypocrisy

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) went berserk when FBI Director James Comey informed Congress last month that he was reopening the agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server, going so far as to accuse him of violating the law.

Comey’s letter over the weekend re-closing the probe brought nothing but scorn from the outgoing Democratic senator, but he did not suggest the second letter was a violation of the Hatch Act.

“It was pretty clear it was way over the top and out of line.”

That 1939 law prohibits federal employees from using their positions to influence or interfere with elections. Reid, in a letter to Comey, informed the FBI director that his office had “determined that these actions may violate the Hatch Act. Through your partisan actions, you may have broken the law.”

Representatives from Reid’s office did not return a phone call from LifeZette on Monday. The senator released a statement on Sunday blasting Comey, accusing him of creating a “political firestorm” 11 days before the election. He said Comey violated longstanding Justice Department rules and practice.

“By confirming that the new emails were meaningless, today’s letter underscores the irresponsibility of Director Comey’s original letter,” he said in the statement.

Ron Bonjean, a political consultant who previously served stints as spokesman for the Senate majority leader and the speaker of the House, said Reid's Hatch Act accusations were a political stunt from the start.

"It was pretty clear it was way over the top and out of line," he said. "He's on the tail-end of leaving the Senate, anyway. But he did lose some integrity and credibility with that statement. No question about it."

Michael Johns, a health care executive and executive director of the Tea Party Community, said Reid's hypocrisy is glaring.

"Obviously a pattern of distinctly poor and insincere behavior on his part, stemming back to 2012 and the suggestions that [GOP presidential nominee Mitt] Romney didn't pay his taxes," he said.

Johns, who was a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, said Reid has displayed a "lack of political and personal integrity" that is a sign and symptom of dysfunction in Washington.

Johns said Reid was wrong — and almost certainly knew he was wrong — in his interpretation of the Hatch Act. To make a case against Comey, Johns said, Reid would have to show that the director's actions amounted to a form of partisan electioneering in favor of Trump. But Comey's actions during the email probe were "quite possibly the opposite."

Last Modified: November 7, 2016, 2:26 pm

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