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Thursday, September 03, 2020

Ethics Watchdog Accuses Trump Officials Of 15 Hatch Act Violations During Conventions

"Non-partisan ethics watchdog Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) flagged 15 more Hatch Act violations by Trump administration officials during the weeks of the Democratic and Republican conventions, the latest in a long series of criticism towards the administration’s ethical culture.

Ivanka Trump, daughter and Advisor to the US president, is shown on a screen as she speaks during ...
Ivanka Trump, daughter and Advisor to the US president, is shown on a screen as she speaks during ...


CREW has already alleged multiple violations of the Hatch Act by Trump officials for their roles in the GOP convention but now they are citing 15 instances of “illegal activity” by 9 top administration officials that have “flown under the radar.”
Allegations against Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, trade adviser Peter Navarro, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Vice Presidential chief of staff Marc Short and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway center on interviews they gave in their official government capacities in which they made political statements.
CREW Deputy Director Donald Sherman told Forbes that “taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for campaign spokespeople.”
Navarro was also cited for a tweet from his official government account in which he called Biden “soft on the China Tsunami of offshoring,” and asserting that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), “knows NOTHING about China policy vs. greatest jobs president in history.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is in the crosshairs for an op-ed penned by him and President Trump hitting the “Biden-Sanders unity platform,” which CREW found Carson distributed to HUD officials using a government account.
Perhaps the gravest allegations are aimed at HUD appointee Lynn Patton over her reported use of her government position to assist with producing a video about public housing that was played at the RNC and promoted by the Trump campaign – which tenants later complained falsely made them appear to be Trump supporters.
Forbes has reached out to the administration for comment.

Key Background

The Hatch Act, enacted in 1939 to crack down on allegations of patronage in President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, prohibits federal government officials – with exceptions carved out for the president and vice president – from performing in partisan tasks in government buildings, using government equipment or while in their official capacities. It also prevents officials from compelling subordinates to vote a certain way or making partisan hiring decisions. CREW has alleged multiple violations during the convention, including a complaint against Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf for his role in a naturalization ceremony later played at the convention.

Chief Critic

Meadows’ alleged violation happened during the same interview in which he notoriously referred to the Hatch Act as “hoopla,” claiming, "Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares. They expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats.”

Crucial Quote

“The American taxpayers, regardless of their party affiliation, pay for the government to function on behalf of all Americans. Donald Trump has a campaign and people donate money of their own volition to his campaign to pay for campaign spokespeople,” Sherman said of the importance of the law.

What To Watch For

The officials are unlikely to face repercussions, as the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is charged with enforcement of the Hatch Act, has a policy of deferring to the president on punitive matters and rarely turns cases over to the the quasi-judicial Merit Systems Protection Board. Sherman pointed to legislation introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) that would increase monetary penalties for Hatch Act violations, which he believes would have a “chilling effect.” Sherman also predicts that Trump officials will continue to run afoul of the law “as the president becomes more and more desperate about his electoral prospects.”
Ethics Watchdog Accuses Trump Officials Of 15 Hatch Act Violations During Conventions

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