April Sands, a former Federal Election Commission lawyer who was forced to resign due to violations of the Hatch Act, is being investigated for another incredibly convenient computer hard drive crash which helped prevent her “criminal prosecution.”
Sands disparaged Republicans and actively campaigned for President Obama in 2012, a violation of the Act designed to restrict the political activities of federal employees. Sands used her Twitter account to engage in overtly partisan political activities, including soliciting donations for President Obama’s presidential and Claire McCaskill’s congressional campaigns.
Sands appeared on a Huffington Post live stream, which involved a political discussion ‘via webcam from an FEC conference room . . . while on duty.”
Sands also tweeted out messages laced with extreme partisan rhetoric, including one message which stated “I just don’t understand how anyone but straight white men can vote Republican.”
And here are a couple more of the tweets which led to Sands’ resignation:
Again, bear in mind that this partisan activity was coming from a lawyer at the Federal Election Commission.
In a letter to FEC Chairman Lee Goodman, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought to clarify a situation in which the department’s Inspector General had “sought to pursue criminal charges stemming from Ms. Sands’ solicitation of political contributions while on duty inside the FEC building,” but were stonewalled when Sand’s hard drive had been “recycled” prior to them being able to investigate.
According to J. Christian Adams at PJ Media, Sands shares a history with another federal employee who lost incriminating, possibly criminal data when her hard drive mysteriously crashed – Lois Lerner.
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We know that Sands once worked with Lois Lerner when Lerner was at the FEC. Lerner, too, stands accused of using her government office to help political allies.
Like Sands, Lerner was also allowed to resign and continue to enjoy generous federal retirement benefits. Sands had been at the FEC for at least eight years, which means she is likely to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $853 a month from the taxpayers (to be inflation adjusted) upon reaching age 65 in 20 years or so. Lerner will also ride that retirement wave, much sooner I suspect.
Similarly, if Sands fully participated in the Thrift Savings Plan, that means the taxpayers provided thousands of extra dollars a year for her retirement accounts.
A portion of the House Oversight Committee’s press release reads:
“As a part of a settlement agreement with the [Office of Special Counsel], Ms. [April] Sands admitted to violating the Hatch Act by soliciting political contributions via Twitter, conducting political activity through her Twitter account, and participating in a political discussion ‘via webcam from an FEC conference room . . . while on duty,’” Issa and Jordan write in their letter. “The FEC [Office of Inspector General] sought to pursue criminal charges stemming from Ms. Sands’s solicitation of political contributions while on duty inside the FEC building. However, the FEC recycled Ms. Sands’s hard drive before the OIG was able to seize it, and therefore the OIG was unable to show that Ms. Sands’s solicitations and political activity were done from an FEC computer. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia thereafter declined criminal prosecution.”
According to news reports, Ms. Sands worked for former IRS official Lois Lerner when Ms. Lerner served as the FEC’s Associate General Counsel for Enforcement. It is unclear whether Ms. Sands ever communicated with Ms. Lerner after Ms. Lerner moved to the IRS; however, the Committee is aware that Ms. Lerner maintained communication with some former FEC colleagues. Ms. Lerner even apparently shared information protected by section 6103 of the tax code with the FEC.
Sands appears to have not only learned how to engage in partisan political and illegal behavior while under the Obama administration, but has also figured out how to avoid prosecution by claiming the destruction of her work computer.
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