President Donald Trump’s insistence on using the White House for much of his nominating convention may be pressuring hundreds of staff into violating a federal law prohibiting political activity on government property, ethics experts said.
While the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, employees who work at the White House ― both political appointees and civil servants ― are not meaning any federal employee who helped stage the various video productions at the Republican National Convention this week or the speeches by Trump and first lady Melania Trump could be exposed to the law’s penalties.
These can range from a reprimand to being fired.
“This administration has been committing ethics violations right and left,” said Walter Shaub, a senior adviser to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who added that no previous White House has done anything this egregious. “This is the molten lava core of political activity. There is no event that is more political than a nominating convention.”
On Monday, the Republican National Committee broadcast two videos filmed in the White House. One showed Trump speaking with a half dozen coronavirus responders; in the other, Trump met with some of the former prisoners and hostages his administration has worked to bring home from other countries.
The White House would not detail when those videos were shot or how many federal government employees helped facilitate their production. Nor would it reveal how many staff members and from which agencies are involved in Melania Trump’s speech Tuesday night from the White House Rose Garden or the president’s planned speech Thursday from the South Lawn.
“We have been strictly adhering to guidance given to us by White House counsel,” said Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham. She would not, however, share that guidance with HuffPost.
On Tuesday, Trump ― again from the White House ― carried out two...