Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet

Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet
© Getty Images

An ethics group has filed a complaint arguing that first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpGOP senator blasts Washington officials, claims DC would not be a 'well-rounded working-class state' The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US breaks daily COVID-19 case record The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE’s spokeswoman violated federal law by using the president’s campaign slogan on her White House Twitter account.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) against Trump spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.

Grisham and the White House have not responded to requests for comment from The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT

Grisham posted a tweet Wednesday about the crowd at a campaign rally for President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE and said how she was “so proud to work” for the Trumps.

Grisham also included a “#MAGA” to represent Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

CREW alleges that Grisham violated the Hatch Act by promoting the Trump campaign slogan.

The law bars federal employees from using their offices for political purposes. 

The watchdog group notes in the complaint that Grisham uses that account, @StephGrisham45, to conduct official White House Business. It also indicates that her tweets may be archived by the White House.

“The legal rules and guidance are clear that government officials aren’t allowed to use their positions for partisan political activity,” Noah Bookbinder, CREW’s executive director, said in a statement.

“Despite multiple investigations and violations found, the Trump Administration has done nothing to curb its Hatch Act violations and stop the misuse of government for political purposes,” Bookbinder added.

Those found to have violated the Hatch Act can be fined as much as $1,000 and face disciplinary actions like suspension or termination.

Several members of the Trump administration have been accused of violating the Hatch Act, though none appear to have been punished.

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog Overnight Energy: Trump officials may pursue offshore drilling after election, report says | Energy regulators to delay projects pending appeals | EPA union calls for 'moratorium' on reopening plans MORE apologized and deleted a tweet showing him wearing socks with Trump’s face on them and the “Make America Great Again” slogan after he was accused of violating the law in June.

An investigation from the OSC in March found that White House Counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayLincoln Project hits Trump over Russian bounties Obama said Trump's use of term 'kung flu' 'shocks and pisses me off': report New Lincoln Project ad slams Trump over deaths of 'Greatest Generation' members from COVID-19 MORE violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions.

Conway refused to acknowledge publicly if she faced a punishment for the violations. 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyIf the US wants a better WTO, it should lead the way Bolton book shows nastiness rules at Trump White House George Floyd's brother calls on United Nations to study police brutality in US MORE was also found to have violated the law by retweeting an endorsement from Trump in October. 

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was also found in violation of the law last year after CREW filed a complaint accused him of encouraging potential GOP challengers to oust Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashMichigan candidate's daughter urges people not to vote for him in viral tweet Can Trump break his 46 percent ceiling? NFL to close offices for Juneteenth, making it an official league holiday MORE (R-Mich.) in an upcoming primary.

Both Haley and Scavino were given warnings from the OSC.