OSC Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Immigration Judge

The Office of Special Counsel has filed a Hatch Act complaint against an immigration judge over an incident that allegedly took place around the 2016 election.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently announced that it has filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board requesting disciplinary action against Carmene “Zsa Zsa” DePaolo, an immigration judge employed by the U.S. Department of Justice over an alleged Hatch Act violation.

The complaint alleges that a Hatch Act violation occurred around the time of the 2016 election when DePaolo promoted then‐Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plan for immigration reform during a deportation hearing over which she presided.

The complaint states the respondent at the hearing was facing deportation and a subsequent ten‐year bar on reentry into the United States, which DePaolo called “a pretty harsh thing” that Clinton intended to change, provided “the Senate becomes a Democratic body and there’s some hope that they can actually pass immigration legislation.”

DePaulo said the Republicans, on the other hand, “aren’t going to do anything” about immigration “if they can help it,” other than to “try to deport everybody.” The hearing was open to the public.

OSC charged DePaolo with violating the Hatch Act’s prohibitions against engaging in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace and using her official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. Hatch Act violations can result in a range of penalties, including demotion, suspension, removal from employment, and debarment.

“When a federal immigration judge in a public setting uses her position to advocate for partisan campaign outcomes, that’s a real problem,” said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. “Judge DePaolo appears to be in clear violation of the Hatch Act and we believe she should face significant disciplinary action.”

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.