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Julian Castro, potential Clinton running mate, slips up

Tribune Washington Bureau logoTribune Washington Bureau 7/18/2016 By Evan Halper

U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee July 13, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. © Alex Wong/Getty Images U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee July 13, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. WASHINGTON — This is not great timing for Julian Castro, who is on Hillary Clinton’s short list of potential running mates.

The charismatic political rising star serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development has gotten himself into trouble for mixing politics with his government job. An investigation by the Office of Special Counsel found Castro recently violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits such co-mingling.

The transgression took place during an April interview with Katie Couric on Yahoo News. The interview was coordinated through Castro’s government office and took place with the HUD seal behind him. During it, Castro answered a few questions about his agency’s work until conversation turned, predictably, to the upcoming presidential election.

Such interviews happen all the time. But investigators found Castro left the impression that he was speaking on behalf of HUD, and not as a private citizen, when he made his pitch for Hillary Clinton during the interview. As investigators put it, he had “impermissibly mixed his personal political views with official government agency business.”

That’s not a career-killing move, but it’s another reminder that Castro is still a relative political newcomer and lacks the savvy and expertise of some others on Clinton’s short list. Her vice presidential vetting team is surely taking notice.

The Clinton campaign just announced that the candidate will be holding events in the crucial swing state of Florida on Friday and Saturday. There is a lot of speculation that she will unveil her pick during that trip.

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