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Feds Find Castro Campaigned Illegally For Clinton

Julián Castro Twitter account
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro with Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles on Nov. 10, 2013."

Update: The White House says Castro will not face any punishment for violating the Hatch Act when touting Hillary Clinton in a media interview. 

“To his credit, Secretary Castro acknowledged the mistake that he made," White House Press Secretray Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday. "He owned up to it and he’s taken the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. I think that’s the expectation that people have when you make a mistake.”

Federal investigators say that Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the law when promoting Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy in an interview with Yahoo News.

Back in April, Castro—who is seen by many as a possible Clinton running mate—spoke with Katie Couric about the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s activities, but the conversation turned to upcoming election.  

“Taking off my HUD hat for a second and just speaking individually it’s very clear that Hillary Clinton is the most experienced, most thoughtful, and I think prepared candidate for president that we have this year,” Castro told Couric.

The HUD Secretary went on to criticize the Republican Party and its presidential candidates.

The Hatch Act  prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activity while in their official capacity.

“The purpose of the Act is essentially to prevent an administration from using the vast resources of the federal government from determining political outcomes,” says Walter Wilson , a political science professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

A report released Monday by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Castro illegally mixed official business with politics when he conducted the interview from a HUD broadcast studio, with the agency’s seal behind him.

Wilson says the Hatch Act complaint was likely filed by political opponents.

“If Secretary Castro were not in the running to be vice president, I think it’s highly unlikely the complaint would have been filed,” Wilson says.

According to the report, the HUD Secretary and former San Antonio mayor said he did not mean to violate the law, and had believed he was acting in accordance with laws governing partisan political activity.