The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has reportedly opened a case file into whether the photo Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court sets in motion EPA ban on pesticide linked to developmental issues | Trump Interior Secretary Zinke files to run for Congress, again | Senate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill 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.
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 TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race 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.”