White House staff go unpunished for breaking law while career employees get disciplined


Two career Department of Defense employees were disciplined for violating the Hatch Act, in stark contrast to political advisers in the White House.

Finally, some federal employees were disciplined for violating the Hatch Act. There's just one problem: The discipline was imposed on some career federal employees at the Defense Logistics Agency, part of the Department of Defense, while the rampant Hatch Act violations by White House staff go unchecked.

Last week, the Office of Special Counsel made an announcement that it had imposed "significant discipline" on two career employees of the DLA who violated the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act prohibits most executive branch employees from engaging in partisan campaigning while on the clock or at certain events.

The offenses of the DLA employees were fairly banal. One made political posts on Facebook during work hours and solicited political contributions on Facebook as well. For that, he got a 90-day suspension without pay. The other put a "Vote Republican" image in a PowerPoint presentation. He got a 30-day suspension without pay.

This is much different than the way the Hatch Act violations of Lynne Patton, a former event planner who Trump named to a high-level role at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, were treated. Like the DLA employee who used Facebook for partisan purposes, Patton used her government Twitter account to promote political tweets. She then posted on Facebook that her political activities "may be a Hatch Act violation," but that "I honestly don't care anymore."

For her all brazenness, Patton got only a sternly worded letter.

Then, of course, there's White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who has violated the Hatch Act at least 50 times on her Twitter account alone. Similar to Patton, Conway openly defies the law when it comes to the Hatch Act. In the case of Conway, though, the OSC actually did recommend her removal because her behavior is so egregious.

Trump declined to fire Conway, and for her part, she alleged that Democrats were trying to silence her by asking her to comply with the law.

A significant majority of career federal employees surveyed — 70% — say that they are held to a higher standard, as regards the Hatch Act, versus White House employees.

The people Trump installed throughout his administration suffer no consequences for leveraging government time and resources to make highly partisan pro-Trump statements. It looks like enforcement of the Hatch Act is just for the little guy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.