Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper is asking the government to investigate whether a White House aide broke the law when he said a Freedom Caucus member should lose his seat.
Carper asked the Office of Special Counsel to review an April 1 tweet from White House social media director Dan Scavino, which called Michigan Republican Sen. Justin Amash “a big liability” to President Donald Trump’s agenda and suggested the GOP put up a primary challenger. (RELATED: Trump Aide Calls For Primary Challenge To Freedom Caucus Member)
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) April 1, 2017
“As the Special Counsel, you have authority to review potential Hatch Act violations,” Carper wrote in a letter to the Office of Special Counsel released Tuesday.
The Hatch Act of 1939 directs the Office of Special Counsel 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.”
The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using federal funds to support partisan causes and bans all federal employees from speaking in their official capacity for or against political candidates.
Scavino asked Michigan Trump supporters to defeat Amash in the Republican primary from his personal Twitter account, not his official White House handle (@Scavino45).
Carper says the distinction between Scavino’s official White House account and his personal Twitter is unclear.
“Although Mr. Scavino used his personal Twitter account, and not his official White House Twitter account, these two accounts are nearly indistinguishable,” and the “nearly identical Twitter pages could easily create the impression that he is acting in an official capacity when engaging in political activity on his personal account,” Carper said.
Trump also called for the defeat of Freedom Caucus members in the 2018 primaries though he didn’t mention any politicians by name.
“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!,” Trump tweeted March 30, days after Trump’s legislation to replace Obamacare failed to pass the House of Representatives.
The worst punishment federal employees face for violating the Hatch Act is removal from office, but less serious cases sometimes result in a 30-day unpaid suspension.
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