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Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat

The Hill logo The Hill 10/12/2018 Morgan Gstalter
Marie Osmond posing for the camera: Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat © Getty Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat Watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday, alleging she violated the federal Hatch Act.

CREW's complaint to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) details how Sanders posted a photo on her official White House Twitter account of herself with Kanye West during the rapper's Thursday visit to the Oval Office.

West is wearing one of President Trump's signature "Make America Great Again" (MAGA)hats in the photo.

The act bars federal employees from using their offices, work resources and social media accounts for political purposes.

Those found to have violated it can be fined as much as $1,000 and face disciplinary actions like suspension or termination.

The OSC clarified this March that any reference to Trump's "MAGA" campaign slogan was a clear violation, the watchdog noted.

This is not the first time that Sanders and other members of the Trump administration have been accused of violating the Hatch Act.

Sanders was one of 10 White House staffers included in a CREW complaint from August after they allegedly used Trump's MAGA slogan or posted support for Trump's 2020 presidential candidacy.

"This administration does not seem to care about what the law says when it comes to ethics issues like using official positions for politics," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement.

"How many investigations and findings of violations are needed until this administration takes action to stop the misuse of government resources for political activity?"

Sanders did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Hill.

First lady Melania Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, was accused by CREW of violating the federal act by using #MAGA on her official Twitter account.

Meanwhile, outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was found to have violated the act by retweeting an endorsement from Trump last October.

Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, was also found to have violated the act last year after CREW filed a complaint accusing him of encouraging potential GOP challengers to oust Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) in an upcoming primary.

Haley, Scavino and Grisham were reportedly given warnings from the OSC.

An investigation from the special counsel in March found that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two separate occasions, once after using her official position to promote products from the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

Conway did not say whether she faced a punishment for the violations.


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