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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 ZinkeMissouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview Overnight Energy: Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling | Justice Department lawyers acknowledge presidential transition in court filing | Trump admin pushes for permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff Trump administration pushes for grazing permits for men who inspired Bundy standoff 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 TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 ConwayThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Pence sets the stage for 2024 Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet MORE violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions by endorsing and advocating political candidates while appearing in her official capacity.