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Hatch Act Headaches Hit The White House (Again)

by Countable | 3.6.18

What’s the story?

The Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using their official authority to effect an election, has been a stumbling block for the Trump administration since the beginning, though the White House has consistently declined to discipline senior staff and cabinet officials for violations. Now that the president has hired a campaign manager, however, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has started paying closer attention and issuing strict guidance.

President Trump declared his candidacy in the 2020 presidential race almost as soon as he was inaugurated. Twenty nine days later, to be exact. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), then ran afoul of the Hatch Act in August 2017.

Carson appeared at an Arizona campaign rally and was introduced with his official title, a potential Hatch Act no-no. As summarized by the Washington Post, according to the Hatch Act, "[f]ederal employees are barred at all times from using their official authority to influence the outcome of an election and from involvement in fundraising in support of a political party, candidate in a partisan race or partisan political group."

If Carson had appeared as a private citizen (not using his official title), he would have been totally in the clear. Following a complaint, however, the OSC did clear him because he never used his title or discussed HUD in his remarks.

More recently President Trump has hired a campaign manager, Brad Pascale. The OSC says this raises a bar that his filing with the Federal Election Commission a year ago did not. It issued a guidance to federal employees regarding activities construed to be for (or against) the president’s campaign:

  • "while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns"

  • "use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non- official pictures of President Trump"

  • "may not post, like, share, or retweet a message or comment in support of or opposition to a political party, candidate in a partisan race, or partisan political group"

  • "may not like, follow or friend the social media account of a political party, candidate or group"

And it’s not just about the president’s candidacy, the OSC referred White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway for discipline for Hatch Act violations over her remarks during the Alabama special election for Senate in November and December 2017. The White House has declined to pursue action against her.

What do you think?

Should the White House discipline Conway for violating federal law? Should they be scrupulous about even the appearance of Hatch Act violations by federal employees, or is the OSC being excessive? Do Hatch Act violations matter to you, and if so, why?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(90)
  • Joanne
    03/06/2018
    ···

    Of course Conway and the entire White House staff should be brought up on charges of this and many, many other things. Will they??? Probably not!!! It is inconceivable to me how they get away with all this BS. This country needs to do some serious soul searching, change rules and close all loopholes. There needs to be an outside committee that oversees the administrations behaviors and make sure due process is taken. We are all equal and the people that are voted in are not entitled. I am so tired of this crap!!! It has got to stop!!!

    Like (58)
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  • KansasTamale
    03/06/2018
    ···

    Back to the same old story. If any of Pres Obama’s people had done even ONE of the THOUSANDS of ILLEGAL things ALL OF Trump’s PEOPLE have done the Republicans would have come unglued & put all of them up on charges.

    Like (45)
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  • Linda
    03/06/2018
    ···

    The Hatch Act needs to be enforced! Influencing elections while in government positions of power & influence undermines our electoral process. Refusing to hold accountable those who breach the Hatch Act undermines the reasons for the Hatch Act. STOP this behavior now!

    Like (29)
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  • Countryfirst
    03/06/2018
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    FIRE ALL OF THEM AND IMPEACH THE ORANGE HAIRED MORON IN CHARGE NOW!!!

    Like (27)
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  • Keith
    03/07/2018
    ···

    Since my representatives are Republicans, I would like to allude to something Senator Tillis said regarding the nuclear option. The party in power must do all they can to ensure fair representation, because there will come a day when they are no longer the party in power. By holding the current administration accountable, Republicans could earn my respect. But it’s something, quite frankly, that I don’t see much of. Instead, I see certain congressional Republicans grasping at straws to defend the president’s actions. It’s not popular to hold the president accountable. But it is constitutional. So please do that!

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  • Truly
    03/06/2018
    ···

    All the idiots out there playing the “what about Obama and the Clintons” BS, can go back to Faux News and Brietbart. No one believes these ridiculous stories but you. Trump and his group are actually breaking actual laws, not just doing things we don’t agree with.

    Like (18)
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  • KYvoter
    03/06/2018
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    That’s ok for now but when November elections are over, you can bet the Democratic Party will be back in charge of congress and most of these buffoons will be charged and out! Enjoy what you have now Trump. That all changes in 8 months! Thank God!

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  • Carole
    03/06/2018
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    Yes anyone breaking rules should be punished. This administration seems to ignore any rules. Their ethics are nonexistent. We need them change their behavior. Vote 2018!

    Like (13)
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  • Andrew
    03/06/2018
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    Of course Hatch Act violations matter! The white house should pursue all violations of it!! Meanwhile how can a sitting president announce his candidacy for the next election while he is in office? This certainly influences the next election ... ?!!?!!?

    Like (11)
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  • Brian
    03/06/2018
    ···

    The smell of corruption is thick with trump and Republican Party the only way they can win a election is to sell out right lies and half truths and use gerrymandering when they loose power they realize they will never have it at the level they do now ever again it is a party in self destruct

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  • David
    03/06/2018
    ···

    It has been very apparent that the White House doesn’t bother with the “rules” and the GOP seems just fine with that. I’m sure the rules will start to matter again when a Democrat gets into the White House.

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  • Cheryl
    03/06/2018
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    Especially Carson.

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  • Sue
    03/06/2018
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    Too much. He's already running for 2nd term . I don't know if I will be able to survive his first term. This country is in deep do do

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  • Kelly
    03/06/2018
    ···

    If any other person and any other administration had violated the hatch act you can be sure that they would’ve been prosecuted especially if it had anything to do with President Obama and his administration. Kellyanne Conway has been a disgrace since the beginning and should be punished if she has violated the hatch act. Ben Carson is another wonderful Example of trumps idea of the “best people”. The laws are for everyone, even the Trump administration. Our Republican controlled government appears to have forgotten that but the citizens have not. Vote them out 2018/2020!!

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  • Donna
    03/06/2018
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    Conway is just one in a long list of administration officials in violation of some ethics rule or law. Since they have no regard for the rule of law, you can expect nothing to be done about this latest violation. The Republican, rule of law party ceased to exist the day DJT and his minions took office and his NSA was caught texting with the Russians 11 minutes into the administration. They did nothing about that, they will do nothing about this. As long as DJT signs their self-interested, economy-killing, prejudiced, pro-business, anti everyone else bills, they could care less. I want them all brought up on charges for failing to uphold their oath of office to protect and defend our Constitution. They are derelict in their ultimate responsibility.

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  • Mary
    03/06/2018
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    There should be a consequence for violating the law. Period.

    Like (5)
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  • Deborah
    03/06/2018
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    She needs to be fired or resign!

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  • Kathy
    03/06/2018
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    Should the WH...a rhetorical question that can easily be answered...YES. Will they...NO.

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  • Wal
    03/07/2018
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    Amazing how Republicans just enforce Laws, they like. Seems Republicans don’t support our Constitution, or Americans. Just sovietTrolls.

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  • Bernie
    03/06/2018
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    Then what is this FISA court abuse but agents of the federal govt affecting elections? There is more evidence pointing to Clinton conspiring to affect election with help of various federal office holders and bureaucrats than anything Trump has done yet no move to investigate it. This is a sham.

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