An independent government watchdog cleared the Environmental Protection Agency of a potential Hatch Act violation related to an April 13 tweet appearing to chide Democrats, The Washington Post reported.
The EPA tweeted a celebratory knock against Senate Democrats after Andrew Wheeler was confirmed as the EPA’s deputy administrator. An EPA employee union, AFGE Council 238, claimed the tweet broke federal law and violated the 1939 Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employees and officials from using government resources to participate in political events and actions.
The Senate does its duty: Andrew Wheeler confirmed by Senate as deputy administrator of @EPA. The Democrats couldn’t block the confirmation of environmental policy expert and former EPA staffer under both a Republican and a Democrat president. https://t.co/FpkjOUtmnJ
— U.S. EPA (@EPA) April 13, 2018
The Office of Special Counsel investigated the incident and ruled the tweet did not violate federal law because “it was not aimed at the electoral success or defeat of a political party or candidate for partisan political office.” The special counsel also found no evidence that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had any involvement in the message, according to a May 23 letter obtained by WaPo.
The Government Accountability Office is also investigating the tweet as a potential Hatch Act violation at the request of Democrat Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico. (RELATED: Zinke’s Las Vegas Trip Did Not Violate The Hatch Act, Special Counsel Finds)
Another Trump cabinet member, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was also cleared of multiple possible Hatch Act violations by the special counsel, according to a May 31 letter obtained by The Associated Press.
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