According to a report from the United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) released Tuesday, at least 13 advisers to former President Donald Trump created a “taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus” within the White House, a violation of the Hatch Act. The law limits political campaigning by government employees. The 13 officials include several prominent former Trump staffers:
- Jared Kushner
- Kellyanne Conway
- Kayleigh McEnany
- Mark Meadows
- Stephen Mille
- Mike Pompeo
- Chad Wolf
“Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump’s reelection and the limits of OSC’s enforcement power,” the counsel said in a news release.
According to the OSC, the investigation looked into Hatch Act complaints against the Trump advisers that the counsel received “largely in response to the 2020 Republican National Convention”. The Convention was hosted in part at the White House.
“OSC investigated those complaints and determined that hosting the RNC at the White House did not itself violate the Hatch Act,” the report said.
It went on to say former President Trump, as well as former Vice President Mike Pence, are exempt from the Hatch Act.
“Assuming that the president or the vice president, neither of whom is subject to the Hatch Act, authorizes use of the White House for a political convention and the convention itself is produced by nonfederal employees, that circumstance alone would not violate the Hatch Act,” the report said. However, it went on to say the presidential and vice presidential exemptions to the Hatch do not “apply to senior members of the president’s administration”, including the 13 Trump advisers.
Those advisers in question cannot be disciplined, since they no longer work at the White House.
“Each of these high-profile violations was committed by an official OSC believes, based on current law, could only have been disciplined by then-President Donald J. Trump,” the report said. “Where, as happened in the Trump administration, the White House chooses to ignore the Hatch Act’s requirements, there is currently no mechanism for holding senior administration officials accountable for violating the law.”