Two of the top officials in the White House have wilfully violated a federal ethics law that has been in place for many, many years.
Two weeks ago, the Office of Special Counsel made it clear that it was against the law for any federal employee to use the “MAGA” slogan while they were serving in any official capacity.
The agency said that by using the slogan that former President Donald Trump uses in his campaign, any official would be engaging in partisan political activity, which would be a violation of the 1939 Hatch Act. That law makes it illegal for any federal official to use funds from taxpayers to potentially influence an election.
Yet, only one week after the Office of Special Counsel made that statement, two White House officials used the MAGA slogan in statements they released. Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, as well as Andrew Bates, her top deputy, both used the slogan multiple times in a statement.
This can only be seen as the White House turning their nose to federal laws that are meant to prevent elected officials from engaging in election influence campaigns. It’s hard to blame Jean-Pierre and Bates specifically, though, since their boss thought it was OK to use the phrase himself.
Leading up to the 2022 midterm elections, President Joe Biden used the phrase “Ultra-MAGA” to describe some of the candidates who were running for office.
After the president said the phrase, the White House tried to claim that Biden created it himself. However, a Washington Post report later revealed that it came out of a focus group project that lasted six months that was conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and was led by Anita Dunn, one of Biden’s aides.
On June 7, investigators at the federal government sent a notification to Jean-Pierre to tell her she violated the Hatch Act when she said during a press conference in November “MAGA Republicans.” She was warned by the Office of Special Counsel that if she continued to utter that phrase, they “would consider it a knowing and willful violation of the law that could result in OSC pursuing disciplinary action.”
Yet, that’s exactly what the White House press secretary did last week.
On two different occasions, she used MAGA in a statement she released on Wednesday. The statement was attacking the “hardcore MAGA budget” that the Republican Study Committee released that would cut spending by as much as $16.3 trillion over the next decade.
In a separate memo sent Wednesday, Bates attacked the same bill, using the MAGA phrase three different times.
A watchdog group called Protect the Public’s Trust filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel last Thursday in which they demanded that a formal investigation be conducted into the Biden administration’s “deliberate decision” to continue to flout the legal guidance the agency has issued.
The group called Jean-Pierre’s and Bates’ statements a “deliberate thumb in the eye” for federal authorities.