Right-wing media cherry-picked from an email chain between the White House and the Department of Labor to claim that it reveals a White House “cover-up” of the schedule of former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who was being investigated over allegations that she had violated political fundraising rules. In fact, the last email from the White House shows that it did not object to the planned release of information from Solis' schedule.
Solis' 2013 Resignation From Labor Department Ended Federal Inquiry Into Hatch Act Violation
LA Times: Solis Resigned In 2013 After Investigation Into Violation Of Hatch Act Had Begun. According to the Los Angeles Times, Solis resigned as labor secretary after the Office of Special Counsel began investigating allegations that Solis had violated fundraising rules established by the Hatch Act when she solicited political donations from an employee in March 2012.The special counsel's inquiry was closed after Solis' resigned, with the option to reopen it if she took another job in the executive branch:
A letter sent last year to Solis by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that investigates allegations of administrative violations of fundraising rules by federal officials, said it began an inquiry after receiving a complaint that Solis had solicited a donation from a Labor Department employee.
The January 2013 letter, which was reviewed by The Times, noted that Solis had resigned from her federal position earlier that month. As a result, the office said it was closing its inquiry into possible violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain political activities by federal workers and imposes administrative penalties. The letter said the administrative inquiry could be reopened if Solis takes an executive branch job in the federal government. [Los Angeles Times, 5/9/14]
Right-Wing Media: Newly Released Emails Show White House Tried To Cover Up Solis' Schedule During Federal Inquiry
Fox News Claims “Bombshell” New Emails Are Proof Of White House “Cover-Up.” On the September 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt claimed that newly obtained emails show that the White House and Department of Labor were conspiring to hide former Labor Secretary Solis' schedule from a conservative group:
EARHARDT: Newly released bombshell emails catching the White House in the middle of a cover-up. The email chain obtained by research firm Cause of Action shows the Department of Labor and the White House trying to hide former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis' schedule. Solis had been battling an FBI investigation at the time for illegallyfundraising for President Obama. When portions of Solis' schedule were summoned, the White House thanked the Labor Department for flagging the request. The chain ends with the White House asking, “I should have asked in my earlier email, can you send me who the requester was?” The Labor Department replying, “Americans for Limited Government” --yes, a conservative group. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/15/14]
Daily Caller: Emails Show White House Coordinated With Labor Department For Cover-Up. On September 14, a Daily Caller headline said that the emails showed that the “White House Coordinated With Department of Labor To Hide Illegal Obama Fundraiser Hilda Solis' Schedule.” The Daily Caller also suggested that the email chain ended in the Labor Department responding to the White House that the group seeking the documents was Americans for Limited Government. [The Daily Caller, 9/14/14]
Reality: Emails Reveal White House Expressed 'No Concerns' About Releasing Solis' Schedule
Final Email From White House Says There Are No “Comments Or Concerns.” In the complete email chain, White House counsel Lamar Baker responded to the request for information from Solis' schedule by stating that the White House had no comments or concerns regarding its release:
GREENFIELD: The entry is from April 7, 2009, and reads as follows:
Lunch-Cecilia Munoz (Secys Dining Room)
BAKER: Sorry, just one follow-up I should have asked in my earlier email: can you remind me who the requester was?
GREENFIELD: Americans for Limited Government.
BAKER: Hi -- no comments or concerns here regarding the planned release of the 4/7/09 “Lunch- Cecilia Munoz (Secys Dining Room)” entry. Thanks for flagging, and please keep me posted if there is any follow up. [CauseOfAction.org, accessed 9/15/14]