CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington — Assistant to the President Ivanka Trump appears to have violated the Hatch Act by engaging in both official government business and political activity using her Twitter account @IvankaTrump, according to a complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Trump’s apparent violation occurred only three days after the OSC recommended that her colleague, Kellyanne Conway, be fired for her repeated Hatch Act violations and public disdain for ethics laws.
Trump likely violated the Hatch Act when she used her @IvankaTrump Twitter account to tweet a message promoting Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign announcement, including a picture featuring the campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and stating “the best is yet to come” two days before he planned to announce his 2020 campaign. Following Trump’s appointment as a federal employee in her father’s administration, she has primarily used her @IvankaTrump Twitter account to post and share messages related to official government business. However, since March 2018, Trump has used that same account to retweet multiple partisan political posts. OSC has explicitly prohibited federal officials from using social media accounts that they use for government business to reference Trump campaign slogans or promote materials from the campaign.
“It has become clear that this rampant abuse of public office is not a problem of ‘one bad apple’ but rather a key feature of the Trump White House,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “By blatantly using her office for politics right after the Office of Special Counsel recommended her colleague be fired for repeatedly acting similarly, Ivanka Trump has basically thumbed her nose at the OSC and the rule of law. Never before have we witnessed this level of illegal politicized behavior, and it must not be allowed to continue.”
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.” In March 2018, OSC offered additional clarification explicitly prohibiting an employee from using the slogan “Make America Great Again,” or “any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns.”
Less than a week ago, OSC issued a scathing report detailing Conway’s numerous Hatch Act violations including using her @KellyannePolls Twitter account for both official and political activity. OSC took the unprecedented step of recommending that Conway be removed from federal service. Following CREW complaints, ten Trump Administration officials have been cited for Hatch Act violations including Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Deputy Assistant to the President and Communications Director for the Office of the First Lady Stephanie Grisham and White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino.