CONTACT: Jenna Grande
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Washington—United States Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman appears to have violated the Hatch Act based on reports that he used his position to lobby Brazilian government officials for tariff agreements by arguing that they would benefit the re-election of President Trump, according to a complaint sent today to the Office of Special Counsel by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

According to multiple public reports from Brazilian and U.S. media, Ambassador Chapman lobbied for a reduction on the country’s import tariffs on American ethanol by claiming that this policy change would benefit the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro by assisting President Trump’s re-election effort in America. Chapman is accused of violating the Hatch Act by using his official title and authority as the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil to influence and interfere with the results of the presidential election. Despite Chapman’s denials, there are numerous reports of his alleged misconduct that demand investigation.

“Yet again, a member of the Trump administration appears to have violated the important ethics laws against using official positions for politics,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “Ambassador Chapman’s reported behavior jeopardizes our relationship with foreign leaders, puts the president’s political interest ahead of the public interest, and threatens to undermine our democracy by using the powers of government to keep current leaders in place.”

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.” 

“Ambassador Chapman’s alleged conduct should not be taken lightly. OSC should act swiftly to investigate reports of Chapman’s solicitation of foreign assistance to benefit the President’s electoral fortunes,” said Bookbinder.

Throughout this 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.