Office of Special Counsel Concludes Review, Determines White House Aide Violated the Hatch Act

Following Senator Carper’s request for a full review, OSC determined that a tweet from a Presidential aide violated the Hatch Act by urging Trump supporters to defeat U.S. Representative Justin Amash in a primary election

WASHINGTON— After U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel requesting a full review of a White House aide’s potential violation of the Hatch Act, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has determined that the aide’s conduct violated the Hatch Act.

In April 2017, Dan Scavino, Assistant to the President and Director of Social Media, tweeted that Trump supporters should defeat U.S. Representative Justin Amash in a primary election. The Hatch Act prohibits un-elected federal officials from engaging in political activities in an official, government capacity at any time, and also restricts certain political activities in a personal capacity. Senator Carper requested that OSC, “use the authority Congress granted you under the Hatch Act of 1939, as amended, to ‘receive any allegation of a prohibited personnel practice and shall investigate the allegation to the extent necessary to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel practice has occurred, exists, or is to be taken.’”

OSC sent a letter to Senator Carper after completing their review of the Hatch Act complaint regarding Mr. Scavino. “OSC has concluded that this activity violated the Hatch Act. Accordingly, we issued Mr. Scavino a warning letter. In addition, we note that Mr. Scavino was recently counseled by the Office of the White House Counsel.” OSC continued, “Mr. Scavino has been advised that in the future if engaged in prohibited political activity while in a position covered by the Hatch Act, we will consider such activity to be a willful and knowing violation of the law, which could result in further action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1215.” The letter can be found here.

In reaction to the conclusion by OSC, Senator Carper released the following statement on the president’s nominee for Special Counsel, Mr. Henry Kerner.

“President Trump’s recently-announced nominee to head the Office of Special Counsel must commit to a serious review of all referrals of potential Hatch Act violations,” Senator Carper said. “Special Counsel Lerner enjoyed broad bipartisan, bicameral support precisely because she took the responsibilities of the Office of Special Counsel seriously. I look forward to carefully reviewing Mr. Kerner’s nomination.”