13 Trump Officials Violated Hatch Act Regulations, Special Counsel’s Office Says

A new report by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), reveals that more than 12 former Trump administration officials campaigned for the former president while serving in their government roles. This is in direct violation the Hatch Act’s prohibition against such behavior by federal government employees.

Those officials showed a “willful disregard for the law,” the report signed by Special Counsel Henry Kerner said.

At least 13 officials who served under former President Donald Trump broke the rules by promoting Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign while also performing their civic government duties. The OSC report cited specific violations from Trump’s former aides, including adviser Stephen Miller, chief of staff Mark Meadows, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and White House counsel Kellyanne Conway.

Here’s an example of a violation: the report detailed an action by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo was on a trip to Israel for official work. He created a video which would be broadcast at the Republican National Convention. This is the political event in which Trump was set for re-election.

It was also deemed unappropriate to use White House grounds as part of the convention. When asked if the August 2020 action was illegal, Trump told reporters that there wasn’t a Hatch Act violation for hosting a campaign event at the White House “because it doesn’t pertain to the president.”

According to the OSC’s report, presidents and vice-presidents are exempted from the Hatch Act. However, the agency also said that “the law most certainly does apply to senior members of the president’s administration,” noting that other administration officials participated in the event.

The OSC has tried to highlight past violations by Trump officials and even recommended that Trump fire Conway in 2019.

“If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in removal from her federal position by the Merit Systems Protection Board,” Kerner wrote in a letter to Trump in the summer of that year. “As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions.”

Trump refused to take any discipline against his staff, despite the Hatch Act requiring him to. Instead, Trump allowed his staff members to illegally campaign against him while on the job despite warnings by ethics officials at the White House.

The failure to discipline appointees led to “what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper echelons of the executive branch,” OSC officials said in the report.

After White House staff leave office, the OSC is unable take any disciplinary actions. It’s also difficult for the agency to take actions in “real time,” the report states, because it doesn’t have the resources to do so.

These issues can be addressed by the OSC recommends introducing an amendment to the Hatch Act that will allow the agency “to pursue substantial monetary penalties against [presidential appointees] and commissioned officers,” and to allow the Merit Systems Protection Board to have “jurisdiction over former employees for Hatch Act violations committed during their period of federal employment.”