Zinke tweet sharing Trump socks may have violated federal ethics law

Zinke tweet sharing Trump socks may have violated federal ethics law
© Greg Nash

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeEurope deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight 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 MORE has apologized and deleted a tweet that may have broken federal ethics laws prohibiting government officials from engaging in political activity.

The tweet showed Zinke wearing a pair of socks with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says US has coronavirus 'totally under control' Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution MORE’s face on them Tuesday while attending a meeting of the Western Governors Association at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, according to Reuters. The socks also had the Trump campaign's “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan on them.

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

 

Zinke apologized for the tweet, which was deleted, on his official account later on Tuesday.

“Earlier I tweeted a pic of my new socks not realizing it had what 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 said, with the campaign slogan blacked out in the photo.

The Campaign for Accountability, a nonpartisan public accountability group, filed a complaint on Wednesday with the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel calling for an investigation and claiming Zinke's tweet violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity by government officials on the job. 

“Secretary Zinke continues to play fast and loose with federal ethics laws,” Executive Director Daniel Stevens said in a statement. “The Secretary of the Interior should know better than to promote a campaign slogan while touring a national park. The Office of Special Counsel should investigate Secretary Zinke’s conduct and sanction him for violating the Hatch Act.”

The watchdog also shared a March 2018 memo from the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative office that has oversight on the Hatch Act and is separate from the Russia probe led by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE, stating that Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan or nonofficial pictures of Trump may not be displayed or worn.

Another member of Trump’s administration was found to have been in violation of the Hatch Act earlier this year.

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayKellyanne Conway: Martin Luther King would oppose impeaching Trump George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' White House pushes back on Parnas allegations MORE violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions by endorsing and advocating political candidates while appearing in her official capacity.