Texas county sheriff's office shares pro-Cruz photo in since-deleted Facebook post

Texas county sheriff's office shares pro-Cruz photo in since-deleted Facebook post
© Facebook: Tarrant County Sheriff's Office

A county sheriff in Texas used his office's official Facebook account on Thursday to share a photo in support of Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R) in a post that has since been removed.

The post, which went live on the department's official Facebook account around 3 p.m. ET and was taken down about an hour later, shows the sheriff of Tarrant County alongside other people smiling and posing with a Cruz campaign sign.

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Fraternal Order of Police guide on political activity for police officers indicates the sheriff's actions may have violated the Hatch Act. The document states that any member of a “state or local agency" cannot "engage in campaigning during working hours." They are also prohibited from using "any official authority for influence for political purposes, including using the officer’s official title or authority to coerce individuals to participate in political activity," the FOP's guide says.

The Tarrant County Sheriff's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the Office of Special Counsel, which prosecutes Hatch Act violations, said in an email to The Hill that campaigning for reelection or another political candidate while in uniform is not a violation when applied to members of local law enforcement, but noted that any use of official resources to do so would cross a line into violation territory.

"The Hatch Act prohibits employees from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of affecting the results of an election," according to an OSC letter provided to The Hill. The letter states that this "includes using agency resources, such as on-duty personnel, to support a candidate and using one’s authority to coerce any person to participate in political activity."

Cruz is locked in a tight Senate race against Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates ABC unveils moderators for third Democratic debate The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes MORE (D) heading into the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Recent polls show Cruz leading his opponent by single digits.

A government watchdog group filed a Hatch Act complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Delaney: 'It feels like some Democrats are cheering on a recession' Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE earlier this week. OSC determined that she previously violated the act as part of the Trump administration.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEl Paso, Dayton hospitals deny Trump claim of doctors leaving OR to meet him The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? Ex-Melania Trump adviser raised concerns of excessive inauguration spending weeks before events: CNN MORE's spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham was also warned over violating the act last month after she tweeted a message containing President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE's campaign slogan.

Updated at 6:52 p.m.