Jen Psaki recently announced that she will no longer make any remarks regarding the high-stakes gubernatorial race in Virginia.
The White House Press Secretary’s announcement come on the heels of an ethics complaint filed by a bipartisan watchdog group, which claimed that Psaki had violated the Hatch Act through previous remarks she had made on the Virginia race.
Previously, Psaki had remarked that the White House will do “everything [it] can to help former Governor McAuliffe,” asserting, “we believe in the agenda he’s representing.”
This open endorsement incurred a firestorm of criticism, alongside the aforementioned ethics complaint.
“I’ve learned my lesson,” Psaki insisted at a press briefing on Tuesday, adding that she would no longer use her White House pulpit to conduct “any politics or political analysis.”
Psaki’s commentary about learning her lesson emerged as she was asked about Biden’s reaction to the gubernatorial race, namely if he is “surprised” at how close the race is.
However, Psaki refused to speculate on Biden’s preferences for the gubernatorial race, and she simply remarked that Biden will travel to Arlington with the vice-president.
“But beyond the scheduling details, I will leave political analysis to my friends over at the DNC,” Psaki asserted.
Psaki faces an ethics complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a watchdog group based in Washington after her previous remarks on October 15, which openly endorsed McAuliffe.
CREW President Noah Bookbinder remarked that Trump’s administration “systematically co-opted the government for the president’s reelection.”
He also noted that Psaki’s behavior “does not come close to rising to the level of the outrageous offenses of the Trump administration,” though she should still not “be casual about compliance with an important ethics law.”
“The Biden administration should not follow the Trump administration down that path,” Bookbinder proclaimed.
Bookbinder also remarked that the Trump administration was characterized by an “ethics disaster,” which is precisely why the Biden administration presumably feels “extra pressure … to be above board.”
Part of remaining “above board” includes government officials demonstrating “a concerted effort to comply with important laws,” which will theoretically restore Americans’ faith and trust in the government, according to Bookbinder.
“We hope the Biden administration will give renewed attention to staying on the right side of this law,” he continued.
Bookbinder also reflected upon the complaints that CREW filed against Trump’s varied press secretaries, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany, as well as deputies Hogan Gidley and Raj Shah.
“Psaki’s apparent violation is nowhere near as extreme as those of her predecessors,” CREW noted in a statement, observing that Psaki did not completely disregard the Hatch Act “like the Trump administration often did,” though she still went “too far” in her remarks on the Virginia race.
Biden travelled to Arlington, Virginia on Tuesday to campaign for McAuliffe. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to join McAuliffe at a different campaign stop on Friday.
McAuliffe and the GOP’s candidate, political newcomer Glenn Youngkin, are essentially tied as they head into the campaign’s final stretch.