CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington— Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was ordered to reimburse the government by the Office of Special Counsel today after violating the Hatch Act, following a complaint by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Perdue violated the law by using a speech about the Farmers to Families Food Box Program to advocate for the reelection of President Trump.
In discussing the government support program, Perdue made multiple references to the election, including telling those assembled that help for them was “gonna continue to happen — four more years — if America gets out and votes for this man, Donald J. Trump.”
“Even in an administration that has racked up a record number of Hatch Act violations, it is still shocking to see a Cabinet secretary violate the law in such an egregious manner,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Misusing the federal government to help keep the president in power seriously undermines democracy. This administration has shown its lack of concern about these anti-democratic abuses, but it’s a good thing the Office of Special Counsel still values upholding this important 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.”
“Frankly, we expect more from a Cabinet secretary, particularly one who has spent so many years in the government,” said Bookbinder. “This was one of the most shameless examples of the Trump administration’s escalating abuse of taxpayer resources to try to re-elect the most corrupt president in history.”
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.