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December 11, 2018

White House spokesman Raj Shah found in violation of the Hatch Act — but not Sarah Huckabee Sanders

November 30, 2018
Raj Shah is one of six officials found to be in violation of the Hatch Act by the OSC. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

White House spokesman Raj Shah was among six Trump Administration officials who violated a federal act by tweeting their support for President Trump or the Republican Party from their government accounts, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) determined.

The OSC contended that the White House officials cited in the report are not supposed to use their government Twitter pages to voice political support, yet all six of them shared partisan posts, including ones using the Trump slogan campaign “Make American Great Again” or the accompanying hashtag #MAGA.




In doing so, they violated the Hatch Act, the OSC ruled.

“Each Twitter account that was used for political activity is clearly intended and used for official White House or government business,” reads an excerpt from the federal agency’s report.

Alyssa Farah (press secretary for Vice President Pence), Jessica Ditto (deputy director of communications), Madeleine Westerhout (executive assistant to the president), Jacob Wood (OMB deputy communications director) and the former director of media affairs Helen Aguirre Ferré were the other officials found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, in addition to Shah, who is the principal deputy press secretary.

They were each reprimanded and warned that another deliberate violation could be met with additional action.

Complaints about the officials’ Twitter activity had been submitted to the OSC by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) organization.

CREW had also filed complaints about four other officials, including White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but they were not found to be in violation. The watchdog group filed another complaint against Sanders in October after she posted a photo with Kanye West, who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, during the rapper’s visit to the White House.

“While we are glad to see the OSC confirm CREW’s findings of Hatch Act violations, warnings have not been enough to deter Trump Administration officials from using their official positions to engage in partisan political activity in direct violation of the law,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Crew, said in a statement.

“Since the time that these violations were committed, CREW has filed 11 additional Hatch Act complaints against Trump officials,” Bookbinder continued. “Simply put, OSC must consider additional measures to prevent these rampant abuses.”

The Hatch Act, which was established in 1939, prevents officials in the White House’s executive branch from using their position to interfere with or impact “the result of an election.”

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