Trump's social media director violated the Hatch Act — but federal watchdogs let him off with a warning

The Chief of the Office of Special Counsel's Hatch Act Unit said that Dan Scavino "was recently counseled" on it

By Matthew Rozsa

Published June 9, 2017 2:07PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Mark Wilson/Twitter/realDonaldTrumps)
(Getty/Mark Wilson/Twitter/realDonaldTrumps)

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump's director of social media was sent a warning letter by the U. S. Office of Special Counsel for an alleged violation of the Hatch Act.

In response to a letter by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Hatch Act Unit Chief Ana Galindo-Marrone wrote that "you alleged that on April 1, 2017, Mr. Scavino, while invoking his official position at the White House posted a tweet calling for the defeat of Representative Justin Amash in a primary election."

Galindo-Marrone added, "OSC has concluded that this action violated the Hatch Act."

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The OSC, an independent agency that supervises federal civil servants for violations of laws governing their political neutrality, told CREW that it sent a "warning letter" to Scavino and "recently counseled" him on the Hatch Act. It also added that it has not found a subsequent violation on Scavino's Twitter account, but that if Scavino violates it in the future, "we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law, which could result in further action."

The Hatch Act limits the amount of campaigning that can be conducted by government officials, and Scavino was accused of violating it by CREW on April 1, 2017, when he sent out a tweet urging Trump supporters to campaign against Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan.

Amash was being criticized by Scavino for his unwillingness to support some of Trump's policies, particularly the original version of his repeal-and-replace legislation for the Affordable Care Act. The Michigan congressman later responded to Scavino by saying that it was the "same old agenda: Attack conservatives, libertarians & independent thinkers."

Scavino isn’t the first White House official to face public reprimand for an ethics violation. Less than one month after Trump was inaugurated, the Office of Government Ethics recommended disciplinary action against top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway after she appeared on Fox News to hawk items from Ivanka Trump’s clothing lines and jewelry line.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Dan Scavino Jr. Donald Trump Ethics Hatch Act Justin Amash Office Of Special Counsel Partner Video