House Democrats Call for Investigation into Possible Hatch Act Violations at RNC

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are calling for an investigation possible Hatch Act violations that took place during the Republican National Convention (RNC) last month. The Hatch Act prohibits public officials, with the exception of the president and the vice president, from engaging in political activity. Democrats have called on the Office of Special Counsel to probe actions, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s taped remarks from Jerusalem, they say were designed to bolster President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“We are particularly concerned with the consequences of White House actions on career employees who may have felt pressured to help organize and put on these events, potentially subjecting them to legal jeopardy,” House Oversight Democrats wrote in a letter to Special Counsel Henry Kerner. “Career employees have faced severe consequences for behavior far less egregious than what the country witnessed last week.”

“We are alarmed that President Trump and some senior Administration officials are actively undermining compliance with—and respect for—the law,” they continue, noting that “Throughout the Convention, Administration officials repeatedly used their official positions and the White House itself to bolster President Trump’s reelection campaign.”

Democrats also expressed their concerns about President Trump’s participation in a White House naturalization ceremony presided over by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, as well as Trump’s pardon of Jon Ponder, who was arrested in 2005 for an armed bank robbery and later founded an organization to help prisoners reintegrate into society upon their release.

“The ceremony appeared to have been planned and designed as content for the Convention broadcast in support of President Trump’s reelection campaign. We are concerned that White House officials who are subject to the Hatch Act may have assisted in planning and carrying out these actions in a manner that violated the law,” the letter said. “The use of the pardon and naturalization ceremonies as part of the Convention make it virtually impossible to separate them from campaign related activity.”