In an op-ed for The Hill, retired Air Force major general F. Andrew Turley, who counseled the George W. Bush administration and is currently a counsel to Fluet Huber + Hoang, a law firm in McLean, Virginia, says President Donald Trump’s administration demonstrates “shameless contempt for the law and the norms of a democratic society,” which, in turn, “is an insult to the American people, the military and the hundreds of thousands of current and former federal employees.”
“Taxpayers should be incensed that their tax dollars are being used to support partisan actions such as seeking the reelection of an incumbent president,” writes Turley, who points out that the Hatch Act “restricts federal employees from taking part in partisan political activity.”
“Federal employees may not use their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,” he continues. “They may not use official titles while participating in political activities. They may not use their authority to coerce another person to participate in a political activity, or solicit, accept or receive uncompensated volunteer services from a subordinate for any political purpose.”
Despite this and more stipulations that prohibit federal employees from using government facilities and even their personal devices to conduct partisan political activity, last week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) “contained a steady stream of such violations, from misuse of the Mellon Auditorium and the White House for political purposes to Secretary of State Pompeo’s speech broadcast from Jerusalem (reportedly against the advice of his legal adviser),” Turley writes.
Moreover, he posits, the issue is one that should unite politicians on both sides of the aisle: whether or not federal employees abide by the Hatch Act “is a matter of following the rule of law and demanding integrity and lawful conduct from our public employees and officials at every level of the federal government.”
“This is just not right,” he concludes. “I and so many of my federal government colleagues, uniformed and civilian, all worked hard to follow the rules in service to our nation. We should publicly call out this lawlessness that strikes at the heart of public service and demeans the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and military members, past and present, who work hard every single day to meet their legal and ethical responsibilities.”