The Office Of Special Counsel determined six more White House officials violated the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting federal employees' political activities, with four previously reprimanded.
The 1939 Hatch Act prohibits federal employees other than the president
and vice-president from engaging in some political activities to prevent
them from affecting elections in a partisan way, including sending
partisan messages from social media accounts officially used for
Six White House officials violated the law by using their official
Twitter accounts to send or display political messages supporting
President Donald Trump, including tweets using his campaign slogan,
"Make America Great Again," the Office of Special Counsel said.
The violation was revealed in a letter from the Office of the Special
Counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Executive Director Noah Bookbinder.
The OSC issued warning letters to the six officials that stated further
"prohibited political activity while employed in a position covered by
the Hatch Act" will be considered "a willful and knowing violation of
the law, which could result in further action."
The six White House officials reprimanded were principal deputy press
secretary Raj Shah; deputy director of communications Jessica Ditto,
executive assistant to the president Madeleine Westerhout; former
director of media affairs Helen Aguirre Ferré; press secretary for the
Vice President Mike Pence Alyssa Farah; and Office of Management and
Budget Deputy Communications Director Jacob Wood.
The OSC is responsible for enforcing the Hatch Act. The act is a
guideline, so violations are not considered crimes. Punishment may range
from a simple reprimand to job loss.
Still, the OSC has limited enforcement power.
If the OSC finds that disciplinary action is required, "OSC can only
send a report to the president alerting him of the violation," said
Zachary Kurz, communications director for the Office of the Special
Counsel. "It is up to him to impose any discipline."
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint
against four Trump administration officials in a statement in July for
violating the Hatch Act and called for the Office of Special Counsel to
investigate Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, deputy
assistant to the president and communications director for the Office of
the First Lady Stephanie Grisham and White House director of social
media Dan Scavino.
Grisham, Haley and Scavino were reprimanded for Hatch Act violations,
the statement said. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway also received
ethics counseling following a complaint over her violation of federal
ethics regulations by using her official position to promote Ivanka
"OSC should commence an thorough investigation immediately," Bookbinder
said. "This pattern of improper, politicized behavior is unacceptable
and must not be allowed to continue."
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