Watchdog: Haley violated federal law by retweeting Trump endorsement

Watchdog: Haley violated federal law by retweeting Trump endorsement
© Keren Carrion

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyUS asks UN to respond to Iran supplying missiles to Yemeni rebels Trump packs a punch against North Korea as he embarks on Asia tour US upholds Cuba embargo in UN resolution vote MORE's use of her Twitter account violated a federal law that bars federal employees from using their offices for political purposes, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said Tuesday.

In a letter to the watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), the deputy chief of OSC's Hatch Act Unit said that Haley was in clear violation of the Hatch Act when she retweeted the president's endorsement of Ralph Norman, who was running for a South Carolina House seat at the time. Norman went on to win the election. 

The retweet suggested that she was acting in her official capacity when she appeared to second the president's endorsement, according to the OSC.

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"Here, because Ambassador Haley's personal Twitter account included so much indicia of her official role as Ambassador and was even linked to the United States Mission to the United Nations website, it gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity when she used this account to retweet President Trump's message," the letter said.

"And retweeting that message, which endorsed a candidate in a congressional election, constituted political activity under the Hatch Act."

The OSC ruling came in response to a complaint filed by CREW in June, shortly after the former South Carolina governor retweeted the president's endorsement. Hamrick said the agency has issued Haley a warning letter.

Haley isn't the first Trump administration official to be found responsible for violating the Hatch Act.

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was also found in violation of the law in June after CREW filed a complaint with the OSC regarding an April 1 tweet from Scavino that encouraged potential GOP challengers to oust Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashHouse Judiciary advances warrantless wiretapping reform bill The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on tax-reform bill Ryan sets record for closing down debate in House: report MORE (R-Mich.) in an upcoming primary.

Scavino was similarly given a warning letter and told that additional actions could be taken if he violated the law again.