February 27, 2018
President Trump’s 2020 campaign issued a press release today in which Jared Kushner was identified as “Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President, and President Trump’s son-in-law.” In the press release, Mr. Kushner praised the selection of Mr. Parscale in the press release, stating: “Brad was essential in bringing a disciplined technology and data-driven approach to how the 2016 campaign was run. His leadership and expertise will [sic] help build a best-in-class campaign.”
The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” Activities covered by this prohibition include the official “[u]sing his or her official title while participating in political activity.“Political activity” is defined as “an activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.”
Mr. Kushner’s statement clearly is political activity under the statute. The statement that Mr. Parscale’s “leadership and expertise” will help build a “best-in-class campaign” is an endorsement of the person President Trump selected to lead his 2020 reelection effort to a successful outcome.
While the Trump campaign subsequently removed Mr. Kushner’s title and position from the announcement posted on its website, the violation is nevertheless significant since the Trump campaign apparently acted to remove these items only after having broadly disseminated the press release by email to reporters and presumably its supporters, and only after questions about the legality of the statement were raised.
Therefore, OSC should commence an immediate investigation and take or recommend appropriate disciplinary action against Mr. Kushner.
Read the complaint here.
Update: On April 25, 2018, the OSC responded to CREW’s complaint declaring its finding that Jared Kushner did not violate the Hatch Act. Click here to read the letter.