October 29, 2020

Warren Releases New Report: Lawlessness and Disorder: The Corrupt Trump Administration Has Made A Mockery of the Hatch Act

Under President Trump's watch, 14 administration officials have violated the Hatch Act over 50 times. At least another 22 officials are presently under investigation for nearly 100 more violations. Despite repeated and flagrant violations of the Hatch Act, these Trump administration officials have not faced any meaningful consequences for breaking the law.

Report (PDF)

Boston, MA -- United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today released a new report, "Lawlessness and Disorder: The Corrupt Trump Administration Has Made A Mockery of the Hatch Act," which reveals, in comprehensive fashion, the extent to which President Trump and his administration are corruptly pulling the levers of government for partisan political purposes.

Senator Warren's 22-page report begins with a central truth about the Trump administration: "Donald Trump is the most corrupt president in our nation's history, leading an administration that has been involved in dozens of corruption-related scandals. From top to bottom, administration officials regularly ignore the law and refuse to hold those who break it accountable. One prominent example of this corruption is the ongoing shredding of the Hatch Act by dozens of Trump administration officials."

The Hatch Act is a federal law that bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities using their official title or taxpayer-funded government resources and prevents sitting presidents from using the federal government as an arm of their political campaigns. 

Key findings in "Lawlessness and Disorder: The Corrupt Trump Administration Has Made A Mockery of the Hatch Act" include: 

  • Under President Trump's watch, 14 administration officials have been found to have violated the Hatch Act over 50 times. At least another 22 more top Trump officials are presently under investigation for nearly 100 more Hatch Act violations.
  • In the Trump administration, the corruption starts at the top. The President's Chief of Staff, his Attorney General, his Secretary of State and eight other cabinet secretaries, his Senior Counselor, his family members, and numerous other top officials have been accused of or found to have violated the Hatch Act.
  • Despite these repeated and flagrant violations, these Trump administration officials have not faced any meaningful consequences. Again and again, the President's friends and political allies have misused their public positions and broken the law, revealing that they believe that they are above it.

The report also provides a detailed review of Hatch Act violations by top administration officials under President Trump, including:

  • Kellyanne Conway, former Senior Counselor to the President, was found to have violated the Hatch Act 35 times and has committed over 50 alleged violations on Twitter alone. In response to these allegations, Ms. Conway mocked the law, stating "Let me know when the jail sentence starts." Her violations of the law were so egregious that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recommended directly to President Trump that Ms. Conway be removed from her position - a recommendation that was ignored by the President.

President Trump and multiple administration officials are responsible for these repeated violations and lack of disciplinary action against those who break the law. The Hatch Act is enforced by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is currently run by Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner, a Trump-appointed official - and this office's response to what appear to be clear violations of the law has been limited, opaque, and inconsistent. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), which issues initial decisions on reports of Hatch Act violations, hasn't had a Board quorum since President Trump took office in January 2017.

In one case, the years-long lack of a quorum led the OSC to recommend disciplinary action against a high-ranking political appointee directly to President Trump. But he did not follow their recommendation to remove his Senior Counselor, Kellyanne Conway, mocked the law, and did nothing to prevent the repeated violations that have occurred under his watch or to discipline administration officials who have broken it. 

As we draw closer to the end of the President's first term, Trump administration officials  continue to violate the Hatch Act, abusing the public trust while breaking the law with impunity. 

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