Watchdog cites 13 Trump officials who violated Hatch Act before 2020 election
A government watchdog agency determined that 13 senior Trump administration officials violated federal law by campaigning for former President Trump in the lead up to the 2020 election, according to a report published Tuesday.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found numerous officials in the past administration illegally participated in the Republican National Convention (RNC) — parts of which were held at the White House — and broke the law with their political activities prior to the election.
“Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump’s reelection and the limits of OSC’s enforcement power,” the OSC said in a release sharing the report.
The report outlines the latest examples of Trump officials flouting the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal government employees from engaging in campaign activity in their official capacity. The law does not apply to the president or vice president, but multiple other Trump officials were repeat offenders.
There is no enforcement mechanism for the law once officials have left office, but the OSC said it was publishing the violations for full documentation “and to deter similar violations in the future.”
The report found then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the law by delivering an RNC speech from Israel, and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf did the same by leading a naturalization ceremony taped and played during the convention.
The report also called out several political appointees for openly pushing for Trump’s reelection or bashing then-candidate Joe Biden during media appearances in their official capacity.
The officials deemed in violation of the Hatch Act included former Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette; former White House communications director Alyssa Farah; former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; former Trump senior advisers Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner; Marc Short, the former chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence; national security adviser Robert O’Brien; and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who the OSC at one point recommended be fired for her repeated egregious violations of the Hatch Act.
The report acknowledged the limited enforcement capabilities for officials who violate the Hatch Act when the president disregards the law entirely.
“The Hatch Act is only as effective in ensuring a depoliticized federal workforce as the president decides it will be,” the report states. “Where, as happened in the Trump administration, the White House chooses to ignore the Hatch Act’s requirements, there is currently no mechanism for holding senior administration officials accountable for violating the law.”
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