Watchdog corrects report on improper political activity

The Office of Special Counsel has corrected errors related to Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., in a report released last month asserting that former officials in the George W. Bush administration may have broken the law against political activity by federal employees.

The OSC, which enforces federal workplace laws, had said that Johanns, while he was Agriculture secretary in 2006, violated the Hatch Act when he appeared with a number of congressional candidates at events leading up to the midterm elections.

But after the report was released, Johanns provided documentation showing that the Agriculture Department had in fact called one of the events political and had been reimbursed for the expenses. The report also said the Agriculture Department was not reimbursed for a political event that Johanns attended for Republican Senate candidate Mark Kennedy in Minnesota. However, Kennedy's campaign produced a receipt showing that reimbursement was made.

"OSC regrets these errors and has corrected the text on its website and sent corrected copies of the report to each of the previous recipients," the agency wrote Monday.

Johanns also said OSC was wrong to call two other events political because they involved official Agriculture Department business. The OSC disagreed.

"Based on the circumstances discussed in the report, however, OSC continues to believe that these events should have been classified as political, and that reimbursement to the U.S. Treasury should have been made," the agency said.

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