South Lawn of the White House (Olivier Le Queinec/Shutterstock.com)

Special Counsel outlines its Hatch Act limits

As White House critics call for investigations of Hatch Act violations by administration staff participating in the Republican National Convention, the Office of Special Counsel issued a statement outlining its responsibilities and limitations.

The Aug. 26 statement, OSC noted that it has responsibility to enforce the Hatch Act, but “has no statutory authority to enforce or advise on criminal provisions…. That task belongs solely to the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said in the statement: “Ultimately, officials and employees choose whether to comply with the law. Once they make that choice, it is OSC's statutory role to receive complaints, investigate alleged Hatch Act violations, and determine which ones warrant prosecution.”

OSC noted that the Hatch Act does not apply to the president or vice president, nor does it prohibit federal employees from engaging in political activity in certain areas of the White House, including the South Lawn and the Rose Garden. OSC did acknowledge that the number of complaints has increased over the last few months but said that more objections are typical in election years.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose speech taped in Jerusalem was shown at the convention, was widely criticized as having violated the Hatch Act.

Democratic lawmakers have written to Kerner asking for Hatch Act investigations. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) suggested that Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf violated the act by appearing at the convention when he naturalized five new American citizens, while Reps. Raja Krishnamurthy (D-Ill.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) also asked OSC to look into the matter.

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is launching a probe into whether Pompeo’s political activities violate internal State Department policy and the Hatch Act.

Reader comments

Wed, Sep 2, 2020

Liar and chief surrounds himself with only the best people, yea right. How many indictments? He is not the cause of the violence going on across the country but he adds fuel to the fires every day with his raciest talk. If you can support this moron then all I can say is I feel sorry for you. You have not heart or soul, just a mere puppet of this idiotic president. Vote this ---hole out in Nov.

Mon, Aug 31, 2020

So glad I'm retired as I would probably be terminated for turning my chair around so these racists would see my back and refuse to acknowledge their rantings.

Mon, Aug 31, 2020 "FED"-up!!!

Meanwhile, agency Administrators are holding SJW "training" where people representing BLM are taking the opportunity to "Look white people in the eye" and tell them what they should be thinking...and after a long dialogue about how all white people are entitled, they INSTRUCT employees to "go out and march, then come back and be ready to TAKE ACTION", going so far as to tell one participant who is married to a law enforcement officer that she should, "listen to what your spouse has to to say, and be ready to tell them why what they are doing is wrong". At one point they said, "white people need to shut up, look at the information we have...before you can form an opinion". They rounded out the discussion with blaming the current administration for the social unrest, and moved quickly into talking about the 2020 election. Violation of Hatch Act, tell me how an agency Administrator strong arming nearly 10,000 employees into attending a dialogue on SJW, and then berating non-whites during the conversation...then allowing the presenters to imply that they should correct there sins at the voting booth...THAT is a violation of the Hatch Act!!!

Sat, Aug 29, 2020

If POTUS is using the White House for self gain it is a matter of public interest ethics morals responsibility it is a violation of the hatch it because he’s using conversion with a B on the employees that worked on a night that he received his nomination at the White HouseAll presidents in the past elected or candidates have went to the national convention with those DNC or RNC.If they set up chairs are use the lawn or Served food or did any of the following things, using federal employees on regular time for overtime and paying them using federal funding they violated public trust and or or if any taxpayers funding was used to shuttle anyone to and from the White House they are in violation abuse of power abuse of authority Weather is POTUS or the lowest person on the totem pole would be held accountable this idea of abuse on a smaller scale would be prosecuted to the full us extent permissible by law but when it comes to those that are in certain partiesIt may not seem like it but the White House is public domain as well as being there under the guise Of we the people for the people and by the people, If this was done by people on a lower scale it will be prosecuted to the full us extent so the question is is the president United States above the law all of those involved who utilize public domain for personal interest should be held accountable this is a classic case also title 31 cup of the use of government transportation for personal reasons

Fri, Aug 28, 2020

The looting and riots are happening in Donald Trump's presidency. The only thing he does is escalate! No peace keeping there. More sad.

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