Public Citizen Supports Legislation to Enforce the Hatch Act for Executive Branch Employees

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced legislation to increase the ability of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to enforce the Hatch Act against currently exempted federal employees. Blumenthal’s bill would remove the current prohibition on the OSC even issuing fines against certain presidential appointees for violations of the Hatch Act. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on Wednesday for its version of this legislation.

President Donald Trump says he will not fire Kellyanne Conway for violations of the Hatch Act, despite the recommendation of the Office of Special Counsel to do precisely that. ‘Blah, blah, blah,’ Conway taunted the OSC. ‘Let me know when the jail sentence starts.’ Trump’s lack of action after clear violations of federal rules has proven again his lack of commitment to draining the swamp he has become quite accustomed to filling.

The persistent and deliberate violations of the Hatch Act among senior executive branch employees and the absence of enforcement of the law by the Trump White House demand that the scope of enforcement authority by the OSC and the Merit Systems Protection Board be expanded within constitutional boundaries. That expansion begins with passing this legislation.