Nonpartisan ethics watchdog claims Ivanka Trump has violated the Hatch Act

The Office of Special Counsel previously advised the president to fire Kellyanne Conway for her repeated violations

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 20, 2019 3:51PM (EDT)

Ivanka Trump (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Ivanka Trump (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of President Donald Trump, who also serves as a White House adviser, has allegedly violated the Hatch Act by using her Twitter handle for inappropriate political activity, a nonpartisan ethics watchdog organization claims.

"Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ('CREW') respectfully requests that the Office of Special Counsel ('OSC') investigate whether assistant to the president Ivanka Trump violated the Hatch Act by using her social media account @IvankaTrump to post messages, including President Trump’s campaign slogan: 'Make America Great Again," wrote Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in a complaint filed Thursday with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

"These actions were directed specifically toward the success or failure of Donald J. Trump, a candidate in a partisan election," Bookbinder continued. "By sharing these posts on a Twitter account that Ms. Trump uses for official government business, Ms. Trump engaged in political activity prohibited by law."

After noting that Ivanka Trump has used her Twitter handle for official government purposes, Bookbinder writes that "although Ms. Trump claims that the @IvankaTrump is a 'Personal Pg. Views are my own,' the account is also routinely cited in the press for official matters." He then identifies several occasions in which Trump allegedly used her account for political purposes.

On June 16, along with a pro-Trump banner proclaiming "Make America Great Again," she tweeted: "Four years ago today, I introduced my father @realDonaldTrump when he launched a Campaign that would forever change America. Because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous...and the best is yet to come!"

That tweet, the complaint pointed out, was posted only two days before Trump held a launch event for his 2020 re-election campaign — and three days after the OSC concluded that Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, had violated the Hatch Act, in part through her own activity on Twitter. In fact, the OSC recommended that President Trump terminate Conway for her repeated violations.

Bookbinder also pointed to two re-tweets disseminated from Ivanka Trump's account. One, which was posted in April, came from the account of Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, who was promoting Trump's Prison Reform Summit. The second was posted in May and came from "self-described 'GOP commentator' Paris Dennard." Both tweets either said "Make America Great Again" or "MAGA," an acronym for the president's campaign slogan.

The letter concluded that "there is no doubt that Ms. Trump’s use of the @IvankaTrump Twitter account to post messages promoting the President’s campaign slogan and to share messages from RNC Chairwoman McDaniel’s Twitter account constitute political activity under the Hatch Act." It added that the "OSC should commence an immediate investigation and take or recommend appropriate disciplinary action against Ms. Trump."

In a statement to the press, Bookbinder explained that "it has become clear that this rampant abuse of public office is not a problem of ‘one bad apple’ but rather a key feature of the Trump White House. By blatantly using her office for politics right after the Office of Special Counsel recommended her colleague be fired for repeatedly acting similarly, Ivanka Trump has basically thumbed her nose at the OSC and the rule of law. Never before have we witnessed this level of illegal politicized behavior, and it must not be allowed to continue."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. His diverse interests are reflected in his interview, including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), media entrepreneur Dan Abrams, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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