Trump's America

Trump Admin Being Investigated For Violating The Hatch Act (Again)

The act limits the political activities of federal employees, to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion—including the use of federal property for campaign events.

US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020 | Getty Images
US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020 | Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has opened an investigation into whether President Trump’s use of the White House as a campaign “war room” is a violation of federal law.  

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) on Election Night filed a letter of complaint to Special Counsel Henry Kerner demanding to know whether Trump’s campaign’s use of the White House violated the Hatch Act. 

“I write urgently demanding an explanation of whether Donald Trump and members of the executive branch are breaking the law on Election Day. Reports suggest that Donald Trump is using space inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as a campaign ‘war room,’” Pascrell wrote. “Additionally, Mr. Trump is expected to be briefed in the White House residence and the Oval Office throughout the day by campaign officials. These actions put executive branch officials at risk of blatant violations of the law, including the Hatch Act.”

Pascrell then announced Thursday that the Office of Special Counsel responded, saying the agency “was not consulted [by the Trump campaign or White House] on the decision to use space inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as a campaign ‘war room.” They added: “[o]ur Hatch Act Unit has opened an investigation into these allegations to determine if the Hatch Act was violated.”

The Hatch Act of 1939 limits the political activities of federal employees, except for the president and vice president, to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion—including the use of federal property for campaign events.

The White House has publicly denied mixing the White House with Trump’s reelection campaign before Pascrell sent his letter of complaint.

In a late October statement to multiple outlets, deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said, “Both the official activity of Administration officials, as well as any political activity undertaken by members of the Administration, are conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act.”

This isn’t the Trump Administration’s first run-in with the watchdog agency. In October it launched an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by giving a speech to the Republican National Convention from a diplomatic trip in Jerusalem. Last year it also sent a report to Trump finding Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act multiple times and recommended her removal. Conway was not fired and did not resign at the time, but stepped down from her position in August 2020 in order to “focus on her family.”