Watchdog files Hatch Act violation complaints against 10 Trump administration officials

A Washington-based ethics group has filed complaints arguing that 10 Trump administration officials violated the federal Hatch Act. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) on Thursday against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Top Democrat accuses White House of obstructing review related to Trump-Putin communications MORE and deputy press secretaries Raj Shah and Hogan Gidley, along with six others.

CREW’s complaint details how all 10 Trump officials posted tweets that support President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE as a candidate for the Republican Party in 2020 — a direct violation of the Hatch Act, according to the watchdog's executive director, Noah Bookbinder.

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The act bars federal employees from using their offices and resources for political purposes. 

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

Six of the officials tweeted Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” or “MAGA” for short, CREW said in a Thursday statement

The OSC clarified this March that any reference to the slogan was a clear violation, the watchdog noted. 

The complaint against Sanders is directed at a March 6 tweet from her official @PressSec Twitter account that includes part of the Trump slogan.

“Great again: ‘The U.S. is likely to overtake Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer,’” Sanders tweeted, linking to a Wall Street Journal article about U.S. oil production.

The complaint against Mulvaney follows an op-ed he wrote in April for CNBC. The opinion, entitled “'MAGAnomics' is working and defying critics,” discusses his perceived merits of the Trump administration’s economic policy and features Trump's MAGA slogan several times.

The byline includes Mulvaney’s official title and was shared on the White House’s website.

Mulvaney also shared the op-ed on Twitter in April with the hashtag "MAGAnomics."

The Hill has reached out to the White House and OMB for comment.

The other Trump administration officials named in the complaints are: deputy director of communications Jessica Ditto, Executive Assistant to the President Madeleine Westerhout, deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, Director of Media Affairs Helen Aguirre Ferré, Press Secretary for Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBolton presses Iran to withdraw forces from Syria, areas of conflict EXCLUSIVE: Trump accuses Biden of lying about Obama's lack of endorsement Leaked Trump transition vetting documents show numerous officials with 'red flags': Axios MORE Alyssa Farah and OMB deputy communications director Jacob Wood.

“We continue to see Trump Administration officials at all levels engaged in unprecedented partisan political activity using their official Twitter accounts in direct violation of the Hatch Act,” Bookbinder said in a statement.

“Despite multiple investigations and violations found, the Trump Administration clearly has no intention to stop the misuse of government offices and resources for political purposes,” Bookbinder continued. “We are now calling on the OSC to consider additional measures to prevent the rampant abuses coming from this administration.”

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

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump calls off Iran strike at last minute The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept MORE’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, was accused by CREW last month of violating the federal act by using #MAGA on her official Twitter account.

An investigation from the special counsel in March found that White House Counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations EXCLUSIVE: Trump says it's not appropriate for Megan Rapinoe to protest during national anthem White House to block Conway from testifying over alleged Hatch Act violations MORE violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions, once after using her official position to promote products from the president's daughter, Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpApple in front lines of Trump trade war African Development Bank is much more than critic suggests Apple seeks to exempt products including iPhone from proposed tariffs MORE.

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

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' Trump UN nominee: Climate change poses 'real risks' MORE was also found to have violated the act by retweeting an endorsement from Trump in October. 

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was also found to have violated the act last year after CREW filed a complaint accusing him of encouraging potential GOP challengers to oust Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question Amash after Trump says he doesn't need Congress's approval to strike Iran: 'Constitution: Wrong' Top Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan MORE (R-Mich.) in an upcoming primary.

Both Haley and Scavino were given warnings from the OSC.