Second night of GOP convention was one ethical violation after another


The secretary of state and the first lady were among the many disregarding ethics rules.

Republicans on Tuesday night trampled on ethics rules during the second night of their national convention, blatantly using taxpayer funds to help Donald Trump's reelection bid and heap praise on their party leader.

For the second night in a row, the convention used the White House as a backdrop.

"I was really struck tonight, I have to say not in the good way, by the use and, in my view, misuse of the White House," MSNBC host Joy Reid said after the convention programming wrapped. "They surrounded themselves with the trappings of the power that in theory they were given by the American people. These are not monarchs, this is not their property. This was not an episode of 'Cribs.'"

Ethics experts say that any government employee who helped the Republican Party stage this political event at the White House, or who attended the convention there, was in violation of the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from engaging in partisan politics in their official capacity.

"Feels like the whole using the White House as a backdrop for a political campaign has been completely normalized already. It's never been done before for a reason. It's a violation of the Hatch Act, it's a misuse of government resources & an abuse of power," Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor and a candidate for district attorney in Westchester County, New York, tweeted.

First lady Melania Trump gave her convention address from the White House.

In another blatant Hatch Act violation, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who is serving in the role illegally, according to a government watchdog, used immigrants as a political prop, holding a naturalization ceremony in the White House that aired during the convention.

"Hatch Act prohibits use of government property for political activity. President is exempt, but all other employees, including Chad Wolf, are not. Flouting the law on live TV while pretending to support law and order," Barb McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and a professor at the University of Michigan School of Law, tweeted

The White House's excuse for violating the Hatch Act in showing the naturalization ceremony was that it had "publicized the content of the event on a public website this afternoon and the campaign decided to use the publicly available content for campaign purposes," wrote the Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Ballhaus.

Daniel Goldman, the former lead counsel for House Democrats' impeachment effort against Trump, called the excuse "both dumb and pathetic."

"They'd be better off admitting what we already know: they do not care about the Hatch Act," Goldman tweeted. "Just as he was emboldened by his Senate acquittal, Trump saw it has no teeth RE Kellyanne, and is again trampling over the law."

In yet another Hatch Act violation, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the convention from Jerusalem, where he was on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic mission. It was the first time a sitting secretary of state had appeared at a party political convention.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, slammed Pompeo for speaking at the convention "on a taxpayer-funded trip abroad": "The story Secretary Pompeo told is just that, a story," Murphy said in a statement. "The foreign policy he describes — where America is respected, NATO is stronger, and China is being held accountable — simply does not exist. And the fact that Pompeo gave this address with the Old City of Jerusalem as his backdrop shows just how far this administration is willing to go to use Israel as a political football for partisan gain. This speech was a mistake, and it will make it harder for future Secretaries of States to effectively represent the United States."

Ultimately, the entire event was a display of disdain for ethics laws and the American taxpayer.

"The Hatch Act was the wall standing between the government's might and candidates. Tonight a candidate tore down that wall and wielded power for his own campaign," Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, tweeted. "Citizen Trump is no longer presenting himself as a candidate. Now your government is telling you who should rule you."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.