In a very bold and brazen violation of the law, Business Insider reports that the Trump administration says that ‘nobody cares’ if they are violating the Hatch Act on the limits of Presidential campaigning and the use of taxpayer money in campaigns.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday said that “nobody cares” if top members of the Trump administration are violating a federal law that helps to prevent taxpayer funds from going toward political campaigning.
Meadows brushed off concerns pertaining to the law in relation to actions from the White House amid the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week.
In a conversation with Politico on Wednesday, Meadows said, “What it’s really designed to do is to make sure people like myself and others do not use their political position to try to convince other employees other federal employees that they need to vote one way, need to register one way or need to campaign in one way.”
“We take it on well beyond the original intent of the Hatch Act,” Meadows said.
“Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares. They expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats,” Meadows added. “So listen, this is a lot of hoopla that’s being made about things, mainly because the convention has been so unbelievably successful.”
In a Tuesday night tweet decrying those who downplay violations of the law, Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics Walter, said, “Anybody poo pooing the Hatch Act is ignorant of the fact that @US_OSC is aggressively going after low-level career government employees while holding the highest level officials with the most capacity to do harm to lower standards. The Hatch Act yet lives, just not for Trumpers.”
The Hatch Act is a 1939 federal law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in certain political activities, including campaigning, while working in an official capacity. The law excludes the president and vice president.
“The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation,” according to the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC).
A number of Trump officials have been accused of violating the Hatch Act, most recently Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. America’s top diplomat broke protocol and delivered a controversial speech during the RNC on Tuesday while on a taxpayer-funded trip to Jerusalem. The move prompted fierce criticism from ethics watchdogs, Democrats, and diplomats, as well as allegations that Pompeo violated the Hatch Act. It was the first time in at least 75 years that a secretary of state spoke at a political convention, and therefore a highly unorthodox move.
Acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf oversaw a naturalization ceremony during the RNC on Tuesday, raising questions as to whether he violated the Hatch Act by allowing his official duties to be exploited as Trump promoted his reelection campaign from the White House.
In a tweet on the naturalization ceremony, the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, “This is so obviously, blatantly, insultingly a Hatch Act violation that it’s starting to seem like the Trump administration is going out of its way to find new ways to violate the law.” (source)
This here is not a “four-dementional chess” move by Trump. This is just illegal and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.
What Trump has done is to set up the idea that he is “outside of the law”, or that somehow, the rules of American society do not apply to him. He most infamously displayed this in the court system, where he tried to go “directly” to the Supreme Court instead of through the process with the lower courts, for which he was twice rebuked by Chief Justice Roberts, and correctly so.
All societies rest on a “social contract” that govern relations between members. While it is not always followed properly, too many violations that break the social contract are very dangerous and can result in the failure of a society itself because nobody will believe in or adhere to the laws any more.
The Hatch Act is significant because part of its purpose is to prevent presidents from using public monies to benefit themselves, and thus to prevent dictatorial behavior. The fact that Trump’s administration brushed off concerns about this when, as Business Insider notes, many people in lower positions of power are regularly prosecuted under it for violations is a flagrant disrespect for the system of government and a brazen, arrogant insult to the rest of society. It is the epitome of the “good for thee but not for me” elitism that makes people hate their rulers and system of government and foments revolution.
Consider if Obama did this- would the Republicans simply brush it off, or would they yell about it, and rightly so? The issue here is not party, because a country is more than just parties, as it is people who have to live together. If there is no way that the people who live in society can be trusted to live with each other in a way that a common understanding is shared and there is an equality of sorts before the law, then what it does is justify the creation of a dictatorship. For a contemporary example, it makes the US look a lot more like Russia, where a few oligarchs that are “above the law” rule everything, and suppress the people, who hate their lives and try to stay “under” the “radar” of their anger.
Trump has not “made America great again.” He has repeatedly and flagrantly shown disdain for or smashed the social contract, or what is left of it, for his own gain, thus bankrupting the law and the court system of what credibility remains. However, it should not be a surprise, as one thing that Trump has been known to achieve is bankruptcies.