Carper Requests Review of Latest Example of Trump Administration Official Engaging in Questionable Political Activity
Jul 19 2018
Latest incident further highlights Trump Administration’s ‘clear disregard’ for the law designed to prohibit government officials from using their office to influence political matters
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) requesting a full review of yet another potential violation of the Hatch Act by a Trump Administration official. This time, the request pertains to a tweet shared by Stephanie Grisham, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady.
On July 11, 2018, Grisham shared a picture of President Trump’s campaign rally including a hashtag of the acronym “MAGA,” meaning “Make American Great Again.” The tweet, shared from Grisham’s official White House Twitter account, raises serious concerns that Grisham was promoting a political rally in her official White House capacity – precisely what the Hatch Act is designed to prevent.
Senator Carper has requested multiple reviews of potential Hatch Act violations by the Trump Administration, noting that it has “demonstrated a clear disregard for the Hatch Act.” Following a previous request from Senator Carper, OSC found that White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. had violated the Hatch Act in 2017 by using his official position to oppose the election of Representative Justin Amash. Scavino was advised that future political activity through his official capacity would be considered a “willful and knowing violation of the law.” Senator Carper also wrote to OSC regarding a similar violation involving Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner.
Since Senator Carper’s initial request, the OSC has also concluded that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway have also violated the Hatch Act. “Taken together, this is a clear pattern of flouting and abusing the law designed to prohibit government officials from using their office to influence political matters,” Senator Carper noted in his latest letter.
Full text of the letter can be found below and here.
July 18, 2018
The Honorable Henry Kerner
U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Special Counsel Kerner:
As you know, the Hatch Act generally prohibits certain categories of political activities for all covered employees. I write today to request your assistance with a review of a tweet by Stephanie Grisham, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the First Lady.
On July 11, 2018, Ms. Grisham sent the following tweet from her official White House Twitter account that raised serious concerns:
Ms. Grisham’s tweet may have also violated other Hatch Act regulations that prohibit certain categories of political activities. Specifically, the Office of Personnel Management’s regulations state:
An employee covered under this subpart may not participate in political activities: while he or she is on duty…while he or she is any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed or holding office in the Government of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof….
In this case, it is unclear whether Ms. Grisham was on official duty or federal property when she sent this tweet from her official White House Twitter account.
As I have stated in my previous letters, the Trump Administration has demonstrated a clear disregard for the Hatch Act. Pursuant to my referral, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found that White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. violated the Hatch Act in using his official position to oppose the election of Representative Justin Amash. OSC also concluded that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley violated the Hatch Act in using her official position to retweet President Trump’s endorsement of Ralph Norman in a special election. OSC also concluded that Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act by weighing in on the Alabama special U.S. Senate election during multiple television segments in November 2017. On February 27, 2018, a press release announcing the appointment of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign manager initially included Jared Kushner’s official title as Senior Advisor to the President. According to your office, Mr. Kushner did not even authorize the campaign to use his official title. Taken together, this is a clear pattern of flouting and abusing the law designed to prohibit government officials from using their office to influence political matters.
As the Special Counsel, you have authority to review potential Hatch Act violations. I request that you 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.” 
I request that you review this letter and act promptly on the basis of your findings. I also ask you to report back to my staff with any recommendation for disciplinary action, if warranted.
 5 U.S.C. § 7321 et seq. (2015).
 5 C.F.R. § 734.406(a) (2016).
 Letter from Ana Galindo-Marrone to Senator Tom Carper re OSC File No. HA-17-2986 (June 5, 2017).
 Nikki Haley Hit for Hatch Act Violation Over Trump Retweet, Politico (Oct. 3, 2017).
 Letter from Special Counsel Henry Kerner to President Donald Trump re: OSC File No. HA-18-0966 (Mar. 6, 2018).
 President Trump Announces 2020 Campaign Manager, Donald J. Trump (Feb. 27, 2018), available at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/media/president-trump-announces-2020-campaign-manager.
 Letter from Ana Galindo-Marrone to Senator Tom Carper re Jared Kushner Hatch Act Investigation (Apr. 25, 2018).
 5 U.S.C. § 1214 (2015).