CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington — President Donald Trump and several senior administration officials appear to have violated laws and regulations governing the use of official government resources including the Hatch Act, according to a request filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. The request asked these offices to review the apparent use of government resources to travel to and participate in official events for the purpose of supporting candidates in partisan races, which could violate the Hatch Act and other laws.
Last month, senior White House aides admitted that several official government events in which President Trump, members of his cabinet, and other administration officials participated are part of a coordinated effort to help Republican candidates in the coming midterm elections. On a call with reporters, an unnamed official bragged about members of the President’s Cabinet and senior staff participating in more than 35 events affecting congressional districts in the month of August. Senior administration officials named by White House staff include Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, as well as Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler. White House staff also admitted that President Trump travelled for official government events aimed at boosting vulnerable Republican incumbents.
“The White House’s shocking admission that government officials are using purportedly official events as coordinated political photo opportunities to boost partisan candidates takes the Trump Administration’s disdain for the line between taxpayer-funded government work and politics to a new level,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “The planning and coordination of these events must be thoroughly investigated, and the White House must immediately halt the abuse of government resources for political gain and ensure that any improperly used taxpayer funds are appropriately reimbursed.”
The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from undertaking any activity directed toward the success or failure of a political candidate or a political party while using his or her official position, including through official travel. Although the President is exempt from the Hatch Act, when his trips involve travel to both official and political events, the law requires that costs be split between the government and the campaigns to ensure that taxpayer funds are not being use to support partisan politics. The conduct to which White House officials have admitted regarding President Trump’s mixed travel and a coordinated effort to use official travel by senior administration officials to support Republican candidates raises concerns that Trump Administration officials are once again violating the Hatch Act and doing so at a much larger scale than previously known.