WASHINGTON (AP) _ An administrator with the Department of Health and Human Services resigned Friday after saying he unknowingly violated a federal law by holding a fund-raiser for a congressional candidate from Pennsylvania.
Michael Hash, acting administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, held a fund-raiser at his house on May 4 for Democratic congressional candidate Ronald Strouse, said Jane McFarland, spokeswoman for the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency of federal prosecutors.
After speaking with his department’s ethics officer, McFarland said, Hash realized he had violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that bans campaign activity by government workers. Hash then voluntarily reported his violation to the OSC and cooperated with its investigation.
Hash agreed to resign in exchange for no additional punishment. Penalties for violating the Hatch Act can range from a 30-day suspension to firing.
``While I made an innocent mistake, it was one I should not have made,″ Hash said in a statement.
Hash told the special counsels that he had never reviewed educational material he received about the Hatch Act when he became a federal employee, McFarland said.
``While OSC will prosecute violations of the Hatch Act, it prefers to help federal employees avoid such violations in the first place,″ Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan said in a statement.
Hash, appointed by the Clinton administration, already had plans to leave at the end of the year, his attorney, W. Neil Eggleston, said.
Strouse failed in his challenge to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Jim Greenwood.
On the Net: U.S. Office of Special Counsel: http://www.osc.gov/