A NASA director sent a potentially illegal email to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton adviser Cheryl Mills complaining their campaign asked him for donations too frequently.
Wikileaks published an email sent from the official government account of John F. Hall, NASA’s director of the Export Control and Interagency Liaison Division, that may have violated the Hatch Act, which states that federal officials must not “engage in political activity while on duty or in the workplace,” or “political activity in an official capacity at any time.”
“People during normal working hours aren’t supposed to do this,” Richard Painter, a professor of corporate law at the University of Minnesota who testified before Congress on the reform of the Hatch Act, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s a no-no unless they’re confirmed by the Senate. This could be parallel to some of the violations of the Bush White House during the 2006 campaign. The Bush White House got in some trouble for this sort of thing.”
Painter also notes to TheDCNF that Hall’s email would be appropriate if sent in a personal capacity because the federal government has an interest in discouraging campaign fundraising.
“I would have had no objection to someone at the White House on White House stationary writing Secretary Clinton and telling her that — as a former administration official — she should do what she can to further the president’s agenda minimizing the negative impact on public confidence in government that results from constant fundraising,” Painter continued. “This type of constant fundraising by a former cabinet official is embarrassing to the president whether or not the Republicans are doing the same thing.”
In the email, Hall reiterates his support for Clinton’s political campaigns and says he donated money to her. He also specifically gives recommendations about the campaign’s digital fundraising methods.
“Madame Secretary/Senator: I wholeheartedly support your campaign. I’ve put my money where my mouth is — twice,” John Hall wrote from his official NASA.gov email account. “Not at your request, but upon my own initiative. I’m happy to contribute to you further as your campaign progresses, just as I am contributing to good Democrats like Glenn Ivey and Chris Van Hollen in their own congressional and senatorial campaigns in Maryland.”
Hall claimed in the email that he received a constant deluge of messages from Clinton’s campaign begging for money, so many that he considered it a turn-off. Mills promptly forwarded the email to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and other aides who used Clinton’s private email system.
“They send me campaign communications once every couple of weeks, but your more-than 20 pleas for even more additional contributions in the space of less than 72 hours is absurd, annoying, and unworthy of you,” Hall continues. “Please moderate it. If you are able to appreciate that these incessant pleas are — more than anything — flat-out annoying, and a supreme turn-off to voters who might otherwise support you, I hope that you might ask your friends to stifle things a bit.”
Hall even uses the email to attempt to get Clinton campaign paraphernalia he had apparently previously ordered.
“I’ve twice requested a button, bumper-sticker, or even a XXL t-shirt to display for you. Any chance of ever seeing them?” Hall continued.
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