Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a report outlining the investigative findings of its career Hatch Act Unit staff in response to Hatch Act complaints filed with OSC regarding senior Trump administration officials' participation in the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) and their political activities leading up to the presidential election.
OSC received numerous complaints alleging Hatch Act violations at the RNC and the specter of political activity on White House grounds. In its report, however, OSC found that the Hatch Act, as written, does not prohibit political events from being held on certain White House grounds, nor would it broadly prohibit federal employees from participating. Further, then-President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Pence were exempt from the Hatch Act's restrictions.
OSC did find violations by 13 senior Trump administration officials, including two violations in connection with the 2020 RNC. The report outlines how the 13 officials used their official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of the 2020 presidential election. Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump's reelection and the limits of OSC's enforcement power.
Though discipline is no longer possible once subjects leave government service, OSC is issuing this report to fully document the violations, highlight the enforcement challenges that OSC confronted in investigating the violations, and to deter similar violations in the future. The full report can be found here
The report finds that Pompeo's Jerusalem speech was illegal:
.Secretary Pompeo’s speech was focused almost exclusively on the work of the State
Department. In less than four minutes he discussed seven major Trump administration foreign policy decisions. His reference to his wife and son at the beginning of the speech appears intended to convey that he was speaking in a personal capacity. But even assuming that were true, Secretary Pompeo nevertheless violated the Hatch Act by repeatedly discussing the Trump administration’s foreign policy accomplishments. OSC concludes that Secretary Pompeo’s decision to speak in support of President Trump’s reelection by describing the Trump administration’s foreign policy record—i.e., the work of the State Department—was not coincidental. Instead, Secretary Pompeo did so because his official authority as the sitting Secretary of State gave greater weight to his endorsement of President Trump’s reelection, an endorsement that was predicated almost entirely upon descriptions of the State Department’s work. Thus, OSC concludes that Secretary Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by speaking extensively about State Department business while giving a political speech, and thereby using his official authority in furtherance of President Trump’s reelection.