Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was forced to delete a tweet of him donning a “Make America Great Again” sock after critics claimed it was a violation of campaign law.
While attending a Western Governors Association meeting in South Dakota, Zinke on Tuesday decided to showcase his sock that featured the famous “Make America Great Again” slogan underneath a drawing of President Donald Trump. “Breaking in new socks on a hike with the governors today,” the official @SecretaryZinke account posted Tuesday evening.
That tweet, however, did not stay up long.
Liberal critics and other Twitter users were quick to point out that Zinke was likely violating campaign rules. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are prohibited from engaging in political activity while on duty. Given Trump has confirmed he is running for re-election, Zinke cannot wear campaign-style apparel while on official business.
The Campaign for Accountability, a liberal watchdog group, was quick to cry foul.
— Accountability (@Accountable_Org) June 26, 2018
The Campaign for Accountability (CfA) also tweeted out a link to a letter from the Office of Special Counsel, which updated provisions regarding the Hatch Act following Trump’s confirmation that he is running as a 2020 candidate.
“While on duty or in the workplace, employees may not: wear, display, or distribute items with the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ or any other materials from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns; use hashtags such as #MAGA or #ResistTrump in social media posts or other forums; or display non-official pictures of President Trump,” the March 5 letter reads.
Zinke subsequently deleted his original tweet and made another post explaining his mistake, including the image of his Trump sock, but with the MAGA slogan blacked out.
However, Zinke’s prompt deletion and apology was not enough for the Campaign for Accountability. The progressive group, believing the sock picture to be a case worth pursuing, called on the Office of Special Counsel to investigate the matter.
“Secretary Zinke continues to play fast and loose with federal ethics laws. The Secretary of the Interior should know better than to promote a campaign slogan while touring a national park,” said CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens in a statement released Wednesday morning. “The Office of Special Counsel should investigate Secretary Zinke’s conduct and sanction him for violating the Hatch Act.”
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