The Urban Revitalization Coalition’s planned event featuring a $30,000 cash giveaway for black voters willing to listen to Trump supporters heap lavish praise on the administration could have violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of government employees from using their official authority for partisan politics. The event, now cancelled, would have honored Trump, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, and Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Johnathan Holifield.
In December 2019, URC held a similar event in Cleveland, OH with White House official Ja’Ron Smith and Housing and Urban Development Cleveland Field Office Director Pamela Ashby reportedly attending. URC and its founders have public and private ties to Trump’s reelection campaign. The attendance of administration officials to these “cash giveaway” events by an organization seemingly promoting Trump’s reelections raises concerns that they might be violating the Hatch Act. These activities also raise questions around whether URC is in compliance with nonprofit law.
CREW requested communications between officials at the White House Initiative on HBCUs and the URC staff, as well as communications with DOE ethics officials regarding Johnathan Holified’s attendance at URC events. CREW also requested communications between HUD Cleveland Field Office staff and URC staff.
Following publicly released records that indicated meetings between the Department of the Interior and URC on “Mashpee policy issues,” CREW also requested Interior records of communications on those issues, as well as discussions of Interior officials’ potential attendance at URC events, as part of our investigation into URC.
The requested records will shed light on whether DOE and HUD officials complied with the Hatch Act and other ethics considerations when scheduling or attending these controversial events. Voters and the public deserve to know if this Trump ally group is a front for political advocacy and to what extent their actions are in compliance with the law.
Read the requests here: