Here are some key takeaways from the reports released by the US Department of Justice inspector general and the US Office of Special Counsel, which investigates potential violations of the Hatch Act, the law intended to keep the federal government nonpartisan.
The reports slammed Rollins.
“We found Rollins’s conduct described throughout this report violated federal regulations, numerous DOJ policies, her Ethics Agreement, and applicable law, and fell far short of the standards of professionalism and judgment that the Department should expect of any employee, much less a U.S. Attorney,” the inspector general’s report said.
“Ms. Rollins’s abuse of her power within the federal justice system to achieve a political goal epitomizes the type of ‘political justice’ that Congress intended to prohibit. There are no mitigating factors that would warrant an outcome short of disciplinary action. Accordingly, OSC refers the violations to the President for appropriate action,” the special counsel’s report said.
Both watchdog agencies found Rollins improperly tried to influence the election of her successor as Suffolk district attorney.
The inspector general’s report said that at a critical stage of the Democratic primary, Rollins “used her position as U.S. Attorney, and information available to her as U.S. Attorney, in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to create the impression publicly, before the primary election, that DOJ was or would be investigating Hayden for public corruption.”
The special counsel’s report said Rollins “repeatedly attempted to sabotage” Hayden’s campaign. “OSC’s investigation established that Ms. Rollins violated the Hatch Act by using her official authority to interfere with or affect the results of the 2022 election for District Attorney (DA) of Suffolk County, Massachusetts,” the report said.
Both agencies also found Rollins improperly attended a 2022 fund-raiser featuring Jill Biden at an Andover home.
The inspector general’s report said, “We therefore concluded that Rollins attended a partisan political fundraiser without approval from the Deputy Attorney General, or her designee, as required by Department policy, and her attendance was contrary to the ethics advice she received before the event that gave permission for Rollins to meet and greet with Dr. Biden separately from the fundraiser but did not include approval from the Deputy Attorney General, or her designee, to attend the fundraiser itself.”
“Ms. Rollins also violated the Hatch Act by attending a July 2022 Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser in Andover, Massachusetts, while on duty, in her official capacity, and using a government vehicle,” the special counsel’s report said.
The investigators said Rollins made a false statement when they were interviewing her
The inspector general’s report found Rollins “lacked candor” when questioned about her communications with reporters during the Arroyo-Hayden primary race and “knowingly and willfully made a false statement of a material fact under oath” about one contact. She later acknowledged that she was, in fact, the source of the newspaper article intended to damage Hayden’s candidacy, the report said.
The inspector general’s office found a variety of additional violations of ‘government ethics rules, regulations, Department policy, or applicable law’
Rollins violated federal public records laws that required her to permanently store all of her official communications, including any text messages or e-mails that included information about her government job, the inspector general’s report said. Rollins used her private cellphone to text staff members 1,700 times but used the department-issued cellphone to send just 30 text messages, the report said. Rollins also texted the FBI’s top official using her private cellphone 146 times in 2022, the report said.
Investigators also found that Rollins violated DOJ ethical rules by accepting two free tickets from the Boston Celtics, with a face value of $350 each, for a game on April 3, 2022. The report said Rollins was also wrong to solicit 30 free tickets from the Celtics for a youth basketball program from Springfield participating in a federal Safe Neighborhoods initiative and wrong to require that a lower-level employee help organize the ticket distribution after Rollins was told by her top assistants she had to act entirely on her own because of ethical concerns. The report also faulted Rollins for admonishing the employee’s performance even though the employee should not have been involved.
The report also said Rollins had accepted private payment without advance approval for travel expenses during trips to events in California and New York. Rollins later paid the sources back and sought reimbursement from the government, saying the travel was for official purposes. The report said it hasn’t been determined whether the trips were official, but if they were she had violated policies requiring advance notice of the private funding. If they weren’t official, “the acceptance of travel-related expenses may have violated the federal ethics regulations concerning the acceptance of gifts.”
The inspector general also found cases where Rollins simply ‘failed to exercise sound judgment’
The inspector general found that when Rollins called a live radio show on Dec. 19 and discussed the upcoming sentencing of a defendant in a federal case that she was recused from she made an “impulsive decision” and “demonstrated poor judgment given Rollins’s own explanation that she was unfamiliar with both the defendant and his criminal case. In addition, her comments may have violated a local district court rule prohibiting extrajudicial statements in connection with pending criminal proceedings.”
The report also concluded she “exercised poor judgment” when she joined elected officials from one party at a press conference on May 3, 2022, after a leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the Dobbs abortion case. While she did not violate department policy, it was a mistake to participate “in an event that concerned a highly charged political issue, involving elected officials from only one political party, and that predictably included election-related speech from other speakers,” the report said.