CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington— Deputy Assistant to the President and Communications Director for the Office of the First Lady Stephanie Grisham appears to have violated the Hatch Act by using her official Twitter account for political activity, according to a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
Grisham likely violated the Hatch Act when she used her official White House Twitter account to tweet a message including President Trump’s campaign slogan “#MAGA” (Make America Great Again) along with a picture from a 2015 Trump campaign rally.
“The legal rules and guidance are clear that government officials aren’t allowed to use their positions for partisan political activity,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Despite multiple investigations and violations found, the Trump Administration has done nothing to curb its Hatch Act violations and stop the misuse of government for political purposes.”
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 an employee 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.” In March, following multiple Hatch Act violations by a Trump Administration official, OSC offered additional clarification explicitly prohibiting an employee from using the slogan “Make America Great Again,” hashtags such as #MAGA, or “any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns.”
Following previous CREW complaints, both Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. were reprimanded for Hatch Act violations. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway also received ethics counseling following a CREW complaint over her violation of federal ethics regulations by using her official position to promote Ivanka Trump products.
“OSC should commence an thorough investigation immediately,” said Bookbinder. “This pattern of improper, politicized behavior is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue.”