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The inner circle of Trump’s administration is promoting a partisan White House, using their government positions to sway the public’s opinion. Amanda Parisse writes about the ins and outs of the Hatch Act.
As private citizens, Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway have the right to free speech and to express their political beliefs on social media. However, as federal employees who are also public figures, they are required to follow a workplace rule that prevents them from sharing their political beliefs while in their official capacity. The Hatch Act, created in 1939, aims to prevent the federal government and by extension, it’s employees, from “affecting an election, or going about its activities in a partisan manner” or playing “any active part” in political campaigns. Simply stated, federal employees, including presidential appointees cannot engage in election matters or take sides on their social media, while acting in their official capacity.
If federal employees like Kellyanne Conway, are using their positions to influence the public or to abuse political opposition, it is no longer free speech but a blatant misuse of power. The direct interaction with the election from high profile members of Trump’s staff taints the democratic process, the public’s opinions being swayed by partisan sentiment.
The Trump administration will do anything to gain favor in the upcoming election, even if it means misusing their political influence. Free speech is one thing, but when it is used to knowingly discredit or attack the opposition it becomes election interference and misuse of the influence of a federal government job.
Kellyanne’s Misuse of her position
Since her arrival to the White House in 2017, Trump’s chief advisor, KellyAnne Conway has repeatedly violated federal government workplace policy, disparaging political opposition while appearing in her official capacity on both television and social media. Her public support and disdain for candidates while appearing in her official capacity as the chief advisor to the president has earned her the title of the “Hatch Act’s most wanted”, her countless violations building a rap sheet a mile long. The chief purpose of the Hatch Act is to maintain the appearance of a federal government that is free from partisan influence, yet she has repeatedly shattered that illusion.
Conway has defended her actions by citing her right to “free speech”. Her excuse as a private citizen is valid, she is indeed entitled to free speech; however, as a federal employee, she is expected to withhold any partisan sentiments which may influence the upcoming election. If high-level federal employees such as Trump’s advisors are using their positions to influence the public or to political opposition, it is no longer free speech but a blatant misuse of power.
Despite countless warnings from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Conway has blatantly disregarded their rebuke, fully aware that despite being subpoenaed she is untouchable. Trump has defended her by praising her partisan efforts while appearing on television, when the employee is as unethical as the boss what else would one expect? Her awareness of being immune to the law sets a precedent to other federal employees, as long as you have a powerful boss the rules do not apply. When the only person who can fire her agrees with her actions, Conway truly is untouchable.
Ivanka’s problematic campaign post
Following close on the heels of Conway’s subpoena, the same federal watchdog who accused her, pointed a finger at Ivanka Trump accusing her of violating the Hatch Act as well. Ivanka is heavily involved in her father’s reelection campaign, a key adviser and campaign staffer. According to the social media section of the Hatch Act, she violated its rules when she tweeted her father’s campaign banner, as well as retweeting Make America Great Again posts from her account.
The lack of action against Conway’s actions has shown Ivanka that she too can get away with promoting partisan content. The fact that she is inadvertently engaging in collusion by working on her father’s reelection campaign despite being directly related to him makes the violation of the Hatch Act even more credible. Her social media content may seem more innocent, however, in reality, her posts are sending the exact same message as Conway’s, except the delivery is much more subtle.
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