Former interim U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid, who hosted fund-raisers for U.S. Rep. Patrick L. Meehan (R., Pa.) and then-U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in 2008 and 2009, has been recommended for disciplinary action for allegedly violating a law that limits political activity by federal employees.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel found Magid had engaged in "prohibited political activity," including accepting political contributions from subordinates and "using staff to help her efforts to assist a partisan political campaign."
It asks for disciplinary action "up to removal from her employment."
Magid did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. A person answering the phone at her home said she was not available to comment.
Magid, 50, served as temporary U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from July 2008 through May 2009. Before that, she was first assistant U.S. attorney for three years. She remains at the office as one of about 140 assistant prosecutors.
The complaint, issued Tuesday in Washington, says Magid held a fund-raiser for Specter in 2008 to improve her chances of obtaining a judicial appointment.
She and her husband "believed a fund-raiser would provide an opportunity . . . to meet Sen. Specter and that it could be helpful to her career," the complaint says. Specter could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Magid is also accused of accepting a financial contribution for Specter's campaign while inside the U.S. Attorney's Office, at Sixth and Chestnut Streets. A copy of the complaint was posted on the website of Politico. The document was filed with the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, which prosecutes violations of the Hatch Act, a law that restricts involvement of federal employees in partisan politics.
Meehan, who chose Magid as his top assistant when he served as U.S. attorney, called the complaint "unfortunate." Magid took over when Meehan left to run for the House. He was elected last year.
"It is my understanding that prior to the fund-raiser . . . Laurie Magid received guidance from the very office that is now stating her actions were improper," Meehan said in a statement. "I know Laurie to be a genuine and honest person, and this is an unfortunate situation."
In 2008, aware that she could not participate in political activity, the complaint said, she asked Justice Department officials if her husband could serve as the host. After one official told her no, she obtained an opinion from the Office of Special Counsel that she could help behind the scenes and suggest invitees.
But the complaint said she "did not disclose her official title" or that she was a supervisory employee.
Magid did not seek specific approval for the Meehan event in January 2009, when, the complaint says, she added 35 subordinates to the attendance list drawn up by her husband. Some of those employees later complained that they had felt pressured to make donations, the complaint says.
When the fund-raising letters were received, "performance evaluations were in progress," the complaint says.
Several hundred people were invited to the $250-a-head fund-raiser.
The Inquirer reported in 2009 that the official host was her husband, Jeffrey A. Miller, a prominent caterer.
A spokeswoman for the current U.S. attorney, Zane Memeger, declined to comment and referred calls to officials in Washington.
The Office of Special Counsel cited four actions by Magid: soliciting or receiving political contributions, engaging in political activity while on duty, engaging in political activity in a government property, and using "official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election."