Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) has introduced a proposal that would help expose, with an obvious eye towards stricter enforcement, circumstances of government figures like those who served in the Trump administration evading accountability for even asserted violations of the federal law known as the Hatch Act.
In general, that law restricts personnel in the federal government from mingling their official work with partisan political activities — something that observers saw over and over again with the Trump administration, even though consequences were hardly ever meted out. As defined on a webpage for the federal investigative entity known as the Office of Special Counsel, many members of federal staff are prohibited from employing their “official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election.” “In fact, OSC revealed to news media that, in one four-year period, 17 political appointees violated the Hatch Act, yet the office only penalized one, raising serious questions about the enforcement of the Hatch Act,” the Senator’s office said in a recent press release.
Luján’s bill would demand certain key details be provided to Congress on the handling of suspected violations of the Hatch Act by the Office of Special Counsel. If imposed, authorities at that office would need to provide regular reports to both the chairperson and ranking member on Congressional panels including the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (OGR). These disclosures would cover instances where the office declined to investigate allegations of a violation and would include annual recaps of allegations received by the office and how such individual claims were handled, meaning with an investigation or not.
The government’s integrity is part of what’s at issue here, as using federal resources for political and fundamentally personal ends obviously makes a conflict of interest. Trump, who remains in contention for the White House in 2024, is also mired by other possibly substantial conflicts, like the millions of dollars his family business has received evidently originating with a Saudi Arabian fund in connection to hosting events for a new league, LIV Golf.