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Judge fined, debarred 30 months for violating Hatch Act

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Sept. 17 (UPI) — The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Tuesday that an immigration judge will face a $1,000 fine and 30-month debarment from federal service for violating the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting federal employees’ political activities.

An administrative law judge imposed the disciplinary action, on behalf of the Merit Systems Protections Board, against Carmene “Zsa Zsa” DePaolo, an immigration judge formerly employed by the U.S. Department of Justice who violated the Hatch Act from the bench, the U.S. OSC announced.

The violation occurred in March 2016 when DePaulo promoted then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton‘s plan for immigration reform while presiding over a deportation hearing.

The individual at the public hearing was facing deportation and subsequent 10-year bar on re-entry to the United States, and DePaolo called that a “pretty harsh thing” that Clinton intended to change.

This would only change if “the Senate becomes a Democratic body and there’s some hope that they can actually pass immigration legislation,” DePaolo 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 administrative law judge found DePaolo’s actions merited “a considerable sanction given the public nature of her position.”

The decision imposed a $1,000 fine, the maximum civil penalty, along with a 30-month debarment from federal service since DePaolo has since retired.

The OSC filed the complaint in June 2018 charging DePaolo with violating the Hatch Act’s prohibition against engaging in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace.

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case and believe the significant disciplinary action imposed against Judge DePaolo is appropriate and warranted,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said.

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