Ethics Watchdog Says These Ten Trump Officials May Have Violated the Hatch Act

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed complaints with the Office of Special Counsel against ten Trump administration officials, alleging violations of the Hatch Act.

The complaints center around usage of President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan on Twitter. March 5 guidance from OSC clarifies that usage of the slogan by a federal official would constitute a violation of the act, prohibiting campaign executive branch employees from engaging in certain political activities.

That guidance clearly outlines how usage of “Make America Great Again” or #MAGA would constitute a violation:

For example, while on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan “Make America Great Again” or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns; use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non-official pictures of President Trump.

But despite that guidance, CREW says that a number of administration officials have continued to use those slogans after OSC clarified the prohibition.

“We continue to see Trump Administration officials at all levels engaged in unprecedented partisan political activity using their official Twitter accounts in direct violation of the Hatch Act,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a Thursday press release.

Sarah Sanders

CREW alleges that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders violated the act with a March 6 tweet, citing the use of the phrase “Great again.”

“While Ms. Sanders did not recite the Trump campaign’s full slogan, using the term ‘Great again’ almost certainly was intended to invoke ‘Make America Great Again’ and suggest that President Trump had fulfilled his campaign promise,” the group’s letter to OSC states.

Mick Mulvaney

The watchdog claims that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney violated the Hatch Act through a CNBC op-ed and a subsequent tweet promoting that op-ed, both using the hashtag #MAGAnomics.

The group also cites a video tweeted from Mulvaney’s official OMB account, again using the #MAGAnomics hashtag.

Hogan Gidley

A March tweet about the pride that Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley takes in walking into the White House every morning is cited by CREW as another potential violation due to the #MAGA hashtag appended to the end of the tweet.

“By using his official Twitter account to transmit this message, Mr. Gidley ran afoul of the Hatch Act, which requires him to remain politically neutral when using official social media accounts,” a letter to OSC reads.

Other Trump administration officials named in CREW’s complaints include Raj Shah, Alyssa Farah, Helen Aguirre Ferré, Jacob Wood, Jessica Ditto, Lindsay Walters, and Madeleine Westerhout. 

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