CONTACT: Jenna Grande
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Washington—President Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to have violated the Hatch Act twice during separate interviews with Fox News, according to a complaint sent today to the Office of Special Counsel by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). While appearing in his official position as White House Chief of Staff, Meadows advocated in both interviews for President Trump’s reelection and against his 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, and in one he also endorsed the Republican candidate running for his former congressional seat.
During the first Fox News interview, Meadows was identified by his official White House title and spoke from the White House’s North Lawn, indicating that he was appearing on behalf of the administration and in his official capacity. In that interview, Meadows criticized Biden and praised Madison Cawthorn, who recently won the Republican nomination for Meadows’ former seat. Later that same day, Meadows appeared on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, in which Hannity introduced Meadows as “White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.” Throughout the interview, Meadows was identified by his official title and spoke on behalf of the Trump administration about its own activities and, again unprompted, frequently launched into attacks on Biden.
“It is alarming and disturbing to see the president’s Chief of Staff so blatantly violate the law by using his official position for politics. As one of the highest ranking officials in the White House, he should know better,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Meadows’ behavior is beyond inappropriate for someone in such a powerful government position, and OSC ought to swiftly investigate to determine whether he violated the law.”
The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from “us[ing their] official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” “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.” The transcripts from Meadows’ July 6, 2020 interviews indicate that he violated this provision of the Hatch Act.
“The tone is set at the top, and President Trump has made it clear he will tolerate members of his administration who openly defy ethics laws,” said Bookbinder. “But Meadows’ performance in his first interviews as chief of staff suggest that either he has too quickly taken to heart the president’s disdain for ethics or he has not bothered to learn the laws that apply to executive branch officials.”
Over the course of the Trump presidency, CREW’s complaints have led to an unprecedented number of Trump administration officials being reprimanded for Hatch Act violations, including Dan Scavino, Nikki Haley, Stephanie Grisham, Raj Shah, Jessica Ditto, Madeleine Westerhout, Helen Aguirre Ferre, Alyssa Farah, Jacob Wood, Kellyanne Conway and Lynne Patton. Following CREW’s complaints against Kellyanne Conway, OSC took the unprecedented step of recommending Conway be removed from federal service in a scathing report detailing her numerous ethics violations.
Photo by Gage Skidmore.