After receiving a report A government watchdog on TuesdayFound that at least 13 Trump officials knew they had violated a law against campaigning while in government positions, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.Massachusetts), and Rep. Bill Pascrell(D-New Jersey), are calling for the passage a bill to punish the officials and prevent future violations.
The Political CRIMES ActThe legislation, which lawmakers introduced in August proposes tighter guidelines and punishments to the Hatch Act. This prohibits officials from abusing the power they have to campaign. Even though former President Donald Trump was required by the Hatch Act to discipline his staff for the violations, he did no such thing — and since his staff are no longer in office, there is little that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) can do to reprimand the officials.
Warren and Pascrell’s bill largely follows OSC recommendations for improving the law. It would create an independent body that would investigate Hatch Act violations during the last decade, including those by the Trump administration. The bill would clarify the OSC enforcement of former officials and reinforce the law’s application to violations on federal property such as the White House.
The Political CRIMES Act would allow for an increase in the penalty for a felony. $1,000To that amount, add a clause that would double the penalty for each violation. It would also ask that the Government Accountability Office be asked to review any political events held on White House grounds.
This provision is likely to be directed directly at a Hatch Act violation that occurred last year when Trump was elected. portrayed the White HouseDuring the Republican National Convention, Trump was identified as belonging to Republicans. This culminated in Trump attending a filmed naturalization ceremony in the White House in August, which was clearly a campaign stunt — and a flagrant violation of the Hatch Act, commentators noted.
Presidents are exempt from Hatch Act. However, Chad Wolf was also present as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. Over a year later, the OSC has officially confirmed that Wolf’s attendance was a violation.
“Donald Trump was the most corrupt President in history,” Warren said in a statement. “He and his cronies in the administration routinely ignored ethics rules with no accountability for their blatant corruption. We have to rebuild the public’s faith that government officials will follow basic ethics rules.”
Though Hatch Act violations aren’t necessarily uncommon — Jen Psaki violated the law earlier this year during a press conference — the OSC report appears to reveal that the Trump administrations’ violations were an organized effort.
“The crime spree by Donald TrumpHis stooges represent America’s worst corruption [sic] government,” Pascrell said in a statement praising the release of the OSC report. “They made a mockery of the rule of law by either exploiting yawning gaps in the Hatch Act or simply ignoring it altogether.”
The OSC report corroborates reports that were put together by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Warren’s office. These reports list a few more. Trump officials who violated the act, including Trump’s senior counselor Kellyanne Conway. According to reports, Conway was the most infringing, with 35 Hatch Act violations confirmed and at least 50 alleged via Twitter alone.