TOPLINE The Trump administration is facing fresh accusations that it is in violation of the federal ethics law known as the Hatch Act over its use of the White House as a setting for the GOP convention this week, bringing the once-obscure law – and its lack of enforcement – once again to the fore.
- Amid allegations in 1938 that officials in President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration offered agency jobs in exchange for votes in a Kentucky Senate election, lawmakers rushed to codify anti-patronage rules through the Hatch Act, which, in short, aims to ensure that government works for all Americans, not just the politically connected or empowered.
- The act prohibits federal employees – with exceptions for the president and vice president – from performing partisan political tasks while on the job, in a government office or vehicle or while wearing government identification, inducing other government employees to perform partisan activities or promoting government employees for their political affiliations.
- Though every administration has had officials run afoul of ethics laws at some point, Donald Sherman, the deputy director of non-partisan ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told Forbes that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has found Hatch Act violations by “at least thirteen” Trump administration officials with a dozen open cases, compared to just two violations by Obama officials.
- Trump officials accused of violating the Hatch Act include White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short, adviser Ivanka Trump and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, who violated the act dozens of times by disparaging Democratic presidential candidates in her official capacity, according to an OSC report which recommended that Trump fire her.