Washington—Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be investigated for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits using social media for politics, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
According to the complaint, Sanders likely violated the Hatch Act when she used her official White House Twitter account to tweet a photo of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a rally for President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign with the comment, “@SecretaryRoss talks to supporters and signs autographs in PA. Glad to have him helping @POTUS #maga.”
“The rules are pretty clear: you can’t use official resources for campaign activity,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “There needs to be a clear divide between the government and campaigns.”
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.” OSC guidance on applying the Hatch Act prohibitions to social media, including Twitter, specifically advises that employees may not “use a Facebook or Twitter account in his official capacity to engage in political activity” and requires that “any social media account created in a federal employee’s official capacity should be limited to official business and remain politically neutral.”
“Sanders’ conduct is of particular concern because it appears to be part of a larger pattern of White House officials using social media for political purposes,” said Bookbinder. “OSC should immediately commence an investigation and take appropriate action.”
This is not the first time a member of this administration potentially violated the Hatch Act. On April 4, CREW filed a complaint with the OSC against Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, Jr. for using his official Twitter account to call for the defeat of a member of Congress in a primary election.