Hatch Act

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (different than Robert Mueller’s office) just found six different White House officials in violation of the Hatch Act.

In a letter the Office of Special Counsel wrote to Noah Bookbinder — executive director of the anti-corruption group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — six of 10 federal employees Bookbinder submitted a complaint about were found to have violated the Act “by using their official Twitter accounts to engage in political activity.”

Among the six were Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah, who sometimes fills in for Sarah Huckabee Sanders during White House press briefings. Earlier this year, Shah used his verified Twitter account to link to a report by the Republican National Committee (RNC) praising Trump, hosted on the RNC’s website.

“Because [Shah’s] June 4, 2018 message highlighted research done by a political party and provided a link to the party’s website and its research, OSC has concluded that he engaged in prohibited political activity in violation of the Hatch Act when he used his official account to tweet it,” the Office of Special Counsel wrote.

Other White House officials who violated the Hatch Act include Alyssa Farah, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary; Jessica Ditto, the White House’s deputy director of communications; Madeline Westerhout, who is the executive assistant to President Trump; Helen Aguirre Ferré, special assistant to the president and director of media affairs, and Jacob Wood, the deputy director of communications for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

The Hatch Act of 1939 — which is also known as the Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities — governs employees in the executive branch (not including the President, Vice President, or certain cabinet officials) to make sure they aren’t using their official White House positions to engage in partisan politics. The only penalty for a White House employee who violates the Hatch Act is removal from their position. However, the White House has not yet indicated whether or not any of the six people mentioned will be fired.

 

Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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