House Oversight Calls For Probe Into Potential Hatch Act Violations At RNC

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump gave the speech in front of 1500 invited guests. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: A screen displays the campaign banner for U.S. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence following Trump's acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Law... WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 27: A screen displays the campaign banner for U.S. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence following Trump's acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination on the South Lawn of the White House August 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump gave the speech in front of 1500 invited guests. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 3, 2020 11:11 a.m.

The House Oversight Committee on Thursday demanded that the Office of Special Counsel investigate reports of “multiple, repeated violations” of the Hatch Act by the Trump administration during the Republican National Convention last week.

Oversight Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), along with Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), wrote that due to Trump administration officials repeatedly using “their official positions and the White House itself to bolster President Trump’s reelection campaign,” the committee is “alarmed” that President Trump and several senior administration officials are “actively undermining compliance with—and respect for—the law.”

The House Oversight demands a response to the letter by Sept. 17. However, any investigation is unlikely to wrap up before the November election. And the damage of using the trappings of the federal government for Trump’s own political ends has already been done.

The House Oversight letter cites several incidents during the RNC that they view as violations of the Hatch Act, which include a pardon and naturalization ceremony staged at the White House, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivering remarks in Jerusalem while on official travel abroad.

The Hatch Act prohibits executive government officials from participating in political activity while on duty, but exempts the President and Vice President.

Last week, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, sent a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun calling for a probe into Pompeo’s speech. Castro wrote that “it is highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting Secretary of State to speak at a partisan convention for either of the political parties.”

Castro wrote that Pompeo’s speech during the RNC may have been illegal, citing the Hatch Act and a December memo from the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser that says “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”

The Trump administration has dismissed concerns of Hatch Act violations during the RNC.

A White House official told TPM last week in a statement that “there was no violation of law” because “the White House publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes.”

Last week, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows scoffed at the notion that the administration had violated the Hatch Act during the RNC in an interview with Politico by arguing that “nobody outside of the Beltway really cares.”

On Sunday, Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf denied knowing that the Trump administration’s naturalization ceremony would later air as part of the Republican National Convention amid concerns that the RNC event was one of several incidents that violated the Hatch Act.

Read the letter below:

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