Ten Trump administration officials are accused of violating Hatch Act

August 7, 2018

A Washington-based ethics group has filed complaints arguing that ten Trump administration officials violated the federal Hatch Act, The Hill reported on August 2.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a complaint by letter on July 16 to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC)—saying that Communications Director for the Office of the First Lady Stephanie Grisham “likely violated the Hatch Act when she used her official White House Twitter account (which cites her official position and affiliation with the White House) to tweet a message that included President Trump’s campaign slogan “#MAGA” (Make America Great Again) and a picture from a 2015 Trump campaign rally. Before serving in the First Lady’s office, Grisham worked on the Trump campaign.”

Under the Hatch Act, executive branch employees are prohibited from engaging in politics. Specifically, the act, “prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election. Activities covered by this prohibition include the official “[u]sing his or her official title while participating in political activity.”

On August 2, the group filed additional complaints against White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney; and Deputy Press Secretaries Raj Shah and Hogan Gidley; along with six others.

CREW’s complaint details how all ten Trump officials posted tweets that support President Trump as a candidate for the Republican Party in 2020—a direct violation of the Hatch Act, according to the watchdog’s Executive Director, Noah Bookbinder.

Those found to have violated the act can be fined as much as $1,000 and face disciplinary actions such as suspension or termination.

Six of the officials tweeted Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA” for short, CREW said in an August 2 statement. The OSC clarified this March that any reference to the slogan was a clear violation, the watchdog noted.

The complaint against Sanders is directed at a March 6 tweet from her official @PressSec Twitter account that includes part of the Trump slogan.

“We continue to see Trump Administration officials at all levels engaged in unprecedented partisan political activity using their official Twitter accounts in direct violation of the Hatch Act,” Bookbinder said in a statement.

“Despite multiple investigations and violations found, the Trump Administration clearly has no intention to stop the misuse of government offices and resources for political purposes,” Bookbinder continued. “We are now calling on the OSC to consider additional measures to prevent the rampant abuses coming from this administration.”

According to the findings of a CNN poll released on March 29 and covered by The Hill, a majority of Americans don’t expect Trump to win another term in the White House. The poll, conducted by SSRS, found that 54% of respondents believe that the president—despite his weekly rallies—will lose his campaign for reelection. Just 40% expect him to win.

Research contact: info@ssrs.com

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