These 6 Trump Administration Staffers Were Just Warned for Violating the Hatch Act
Six White House officials were reprimanded for using their Twitter accounts to show their support for President Trump, a violation of the Hatch Act, according to the US Office of Special Counsel.
The Hatch Act is a federal law that applies to employees of the executive branch restricting them from using their official influence to sway an election, which includes opposing or supporting a candidate, political party or partisan group. The law excludes the president and vice president from this restriction.
Though the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that the employees violated the act, officials opted to issue warning letters rather than take disciplinary action because the employees had deleted the tweets or deleted their Twitter accounts, according to a report on the complaints.
In the spring of this year, three employees—Executive Assistant to the President Madeleine Westerhout, Press Secretary for the Vice President Alyssa Farah, and Deputy Communications Director for the Office of Management and Budget Jacob Wood—sent out separate unrelated tweets or retweets using the hashtag #MAGA, which stands for “Make America Great Again” Trump’s campaign slogan.
Because Trump is a candidate for re-election, the tweets were found to be a violation of the law, the report states.
In a similar violation, the header photograph for the Twitter account of Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs Helen Aguirre Ferre, included an image of the text “Make America Great Again,” the report states.
Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, reportedly violated the Hatch Act when he sent a tweet with a link to research by the Republican National Committee touting Trump’s accomplishments. White House Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto retweeted Shah’s tweet, the report states.
The investigation findings indicate that each employee used their Twitter accounts in an official capacity.
The investigation was in response to 10 complaints by Noah Bookbinder, the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit watchdog organization. In four of the complaints, including one filed against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, no violations were found.