More than one dozen Trump officials violated Hatch Act in month before the election

Trump has encouraged senior officials to use their government roles to benefit his reelection efforts

By Alex Henderson
Published November 30, 2020 3:00AM (EST)
Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Although President Donald Trump has tried to undermine the United States' system of checks and balances, watchdogs in Washington, D.C. have been keeping a close eye on him — and according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 16 members of the Trump Administration committed violations of the Hatch Act in order to promote his reelection campaign in October.

In an article published on CREW's website on Monday, November 2 — the day before the 2020 presidential election — CREW reporters Donald K. Sherman and Linnaea Honl-Stuenkel explain, "during the month of October, at least 16 Trump Administration officials have violated the Hatch Act a total of more than 60 times, in an unprecedented and escalating assault on the rule of law and the democratic process. President Trump has allowed — and encouraged — senior officials to use their government roles to take actions benefiting his reelection effort in its final weeks and days as Americans are casting their ballots."

Sherman and Honl-Stuenkel, however, report that the violations of the law went beyond the Hatch Act — which prohibits employees of the executive branch of the federal government from engaging in some forms of overtly political activity while on duty.

"Beyond the 16 (Trump) Administration officials we identified who have committed clear violations of the Hatch Act," the CREW reporters note, "the White House appears to have also deployed cabinet members to swing states to tout Trump policies on the taxpayer dime — and pressured leaders of the State Department, FBI and DOJ to take actions against his political adversaries purely for his partisan benefit."

In mid-October, the Office of the Special Counsel identified 14 senior Trump officials who violated the Hatch Act. And half a month later, CREW identified 16 — who include White House Senior Advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner; National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien; Trump economic policy adviser Peter Navarro; White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern; White House Assistant Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt; White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah; National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe; Ja'Ron Smith, deputy director of the Office of American Innovation; Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff; Devin O'Malley, Pence's press secretary; Larry Kudlow, director of the White House Economic Counsel; David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel; Energy Secretary Dan Brouliette; and Andrew Giuliani, associate director of the Office of Public Liaison and son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (President Trump's personal attorney).

But that list, according to Sherman and Honl-Stuenkel, is not all-inclusive when it comes to unethical behavior by Trump Administration officials.

Sherman and Honl-Stuenkel note, "In addition to the Administration's obvious Hatch Act violations in the media, the Trump Administration also seems to have deployed legions of cabinet members to battleground states to tout Trump Administration programs in their official capacity. Recent visits include: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Iowa, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Ohio and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Michigan, among many others."

Alex Henderson

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2020 Presidential Election Alternet Donald Trump Hatch Act White House