By now, we know better than to expect this White House to act ethically or even within the bounds of the law. But the breadth and frequency of their misdeeds make them no less shocking, and certainly no less worthy of investigation.
That’s why, yesterday, I joined three of my fellow leaders on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in referring to the independent Office of Special Counsel (OSC) several reports of repeated Hatch Act violations by the Trump Administration during last week’s Republican National Convention.
The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees, including White House officials, from using their authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election. It plays a critical role in ensuring American public servants can work on the public's behalf free of political influence.
We’ve asked the to OSC to investigate several clear Hatch Act violations that took place at the RNC, including:
- Video of a pardon and naturalization ceremony with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and employees of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- A convention speech by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo while he was on official travel abroad.
- Multiple segments filmed on federal property, including President Trump speaking with former hostages and people impacted by coronavirus.
- A segment in which Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Lynne M. Patton interviewed New York City tenants who later explained they were not aware that they would be used at the Convention.
- Vice President Mike Pence’s filmed segment and Convention keynote address, raising serious questions about the use of White House employees and resources and U.S. National Park Service’s role in coordinating and executing Convention programming.
The Hatch Act is an important law, but it’s one that this Administration clearly believes can be violated at whim with little consequence. We made this referral to the OSC because they need to be disabused of that notion.
In this country, your guilt or innocence is not to be determined by your proximity to power. Plenty of federal employees, working in offices far from the West Wing, have been charged with Hatch Act violations for far less serious offenses than the ones on display last week at the RNC. Those closest to the president must face the same level of scrutiny and accountability.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other, and remember that my office is here to help. Be sure to visit the COVID-19 page on my website for more information and resources. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you need assistance, please don't hesitate to call us at (703) 256-3071.
Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress