Attorney General Merrick Garland imposed a zero-tolerance policy on partisan political activity by Justice Department political appointees, Reuters reports. While the policy is meant to insulate DOJ employees from political blowback during the ongoing criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump and his supporters, it came at the urging of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ar.) after the U.S. Office of Special Counsel opened an investigation into whether the new Massachusetts U.S. attorney, Rachael Rollins, violated the Hatch Act by attending a July Democratic fundraiser featuring First Lady Jill Biden.
Federal employees are subject to the Hatch Act, a law limiting some political activities to keep the government free from partisan influence. DOJ political appointees in the past could attend partisan events in their personal capacity with approval. The new rule makes no exceptions, including on Election Day and even if they have close family members running for office. Rollins in a tweet following news reports on her attendance at the July event said she had "approval to meet Dr. Biden & left early to speak at 2 community events." A spokesperson for Rollins, a famously progressive state prosecutor in Boston before Biden appointed her to her current post, declined to comment on the new policy.