Office of Special Counsel looking into Zinke's 'MAGA' socks

Office of Special Counsel looking into Zinke's 'MAGA' socks
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The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has reportedly opened a case file into whether the photo Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks Overnight Energy: Senate eyes nixing 'forever chemicals' fix from defense bill | Former Obama EPA chief named CEO of green group | Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics MORE tweeted of him wearing "Make America Great Again" socks violated federal ethics laws. 

CNN on Tuesday reported that the internal federal watchdog opened the case after receiving a complaint from the liberal watchdog group Campaign for Accountability.

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The CNN report notes that the Office of Special Counsel is assessing if Zinke violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity by government officials on the job.  

“I can confirm that OSC received the complaint and has opened a case file. However, I'm unable to comment on or confirm whether an investigation has been opened,” Office of Special Counsel spokesman Zachary Kurz told CNN. 

The controversy stems from a photo Zinke tweeted of him wearing socks featuring President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE's campaign slogan. 

“Breaking in new socks on a hike with the governors today,” the official @SecretaryZinke Twitter account said in a June tweet. 

Zinke later deleted the tweet and posted an apology on Twitter, saying that he did not realize it “could be viewed as a political slogan. I’ve deleted it and apologize for the mistake.”

"I remain excited about all the incredible policy work POTUS is doing,” the tweet added, with the campaign slogan blacked out in the photo.

Executive Director of the Campaign for Accountability Daniel Stevens said in a statement last month that Zinke “continues to play fast and loose with federal ethics laws.” 

According to the Special Counsel's updated guidance released on March 5 about the Hatch Act, it says that “while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan 'Make America Great Again' or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns.”