A watchdog group has called on the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to investigate White House adviser Ivanka Trump for what the group says are violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activities by most federal employees.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleged in a complaint filed Thursday with the Office of Special Counsel (a government agency unrelated to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation) that Trump violated the Hatch Act by using her official @IvankaTrump Twitter account “for partisan political purposes on several occasions.” The act states that federal employees “may not use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”
The watchdog group noted how the image, from Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign launch, prominently featured a sign bearing his campaign slogan, Make America Great Again.
Ivanka Trump also wrote that “because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous... and the best is yet to come!” the ethics group noted.
The complaint alleged Ivanka Trump also violated the law by retweeting the following two posts (last month and in May 2018), which included the MAGA slogan in full and as a hashtag:
The complaint acknowledged the biography on Ivanka Trump’s Twitter account describes it as a “personal” feed. But “it is used to support and includes substantial indicia of her official government role,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in the complaint.
“Based on this confluence of factors, Ms. Trump’s use of the @IvankaTrump account falls squarely within the purview of the Hatch Act, and she cannot use the account to make posts directed at the success or failure of a political party or candidate in a partisan race,” the group said.
Ivanka Trump promised when she started her unpaid governmental position in March 2017 that she would voluntarily comply “with all ethics rules” and serve “subject to all of the same rules as other federal employees,” the complaint noted.
The president ignored the request and defended Conway.
“It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech and that’s just not fair,” Trump told “Fox & Friends.” “It really sounds to me like a free speech thing. It doesn’t sound fair.”
White House social media director Dan Scavino, first lady Melania Trump’s press secretary Stephanie Grisham and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley all have been found to have violated the act in the past.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said “it had become clear that this rampant abuse of public office is not a problem of ‘one bad apple’ but rather a key feature of the Trump White House.”
“By blatantly using her office for politics right after the Office of Special Counsel recommended her colleague be fired for repeatedly acting similarly, Ivanka Trump has basically thumbed her nose at the OSC and the rule of law,” Bookbinder added in a statement. “Never before have we witnessed this level of illegal politicized behavior, and it must not be allowed to continue.”