CREW filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with 18 federal agencies to determine how the agencies ensure Hatch Act compliance when agency officials take trips that include both official and political activity, called “mixed travel.”
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 mentioned that members of the Cabinet and senior staff participated in more than 35 events affecting congressional districts just in the month of August.
CREW requested records of mixed travel from the 18 agencies for any of their presidentially-appointed officials, the formula for cost reimbursements in cases of mixed travel, and any records about methods the agency uses to ensure compliance with the Hatch Act when officials attend political events. The Hatch Act prohibits government employees from undertaking any activity directed toward the success or failure of a political candidate or a political party in their official capacity, including through official travel. The law also requires that costs for mixed travel be split between the government and the campaigns to ensure that taxpayer funds are not being use to support partisan politics.
The requested records will shed light on the expense of mixed travel and the extent to which agencies consider Hatch Act compliance when senior administration officials travel to participate in official events for the purpose of supporting candidates in partisan races. These FOIA requests follow a Hatch Act complaint that CREW filed with the Office of Special Counsel and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
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