Trump advisers illegally campaigned while in office, U.S. government report finds

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FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Trump holds rally in Iowa

By Jan Wolfe 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. government agency on Tuesday said 13 senior members of former President Donald Trump's administration violated a law that limits political campaigning by government employees, faulting them for creating a "taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus" within the White House. 

In a 65-page report https://osc.gov/News/Pages/21-02-Hatch-Act-Report-RNC.aspx, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) identified instances in which Trump advisers, including Jared Kushner and Kellyanne Conway, used their official authority to promote Trump's 2020 presidential election campaign. 

A spokesman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. 

OSC said discipline was "no longer possible" because the Trump administration officials have left office, but said it was issuing the report to highlight enforcement challenges and to deter future violations. 

"Taken together, the report concludes that the violations demonstrate both a willingness by some in the Trump administration to leverage the power of the executive branch to promote President Trump's reelection and the limits of OSC's enforcement power," OSC said in a news release. 

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“This failure to impose discipline created the conditions for what appeared to be a taxpayer-funded campaign apparatus within the upper echelons of the executive branch,” OSC wrote in the report. 

OSC is an independent federal watchdog within the U.S. government that investigates violations of the Hatch Act, a law limiting the political participation and speech of federal employees. 

The report was the culmination of an investigation that began while Trump was in office following his decision to hold the 2020 Republican National Convention at the White House. 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf both violated the Hatch Act by appearing at the political convention, the report found. Wolf's consulting firm and Pompeo's political action committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The report said several Trump advisers — including Kushner, Conway, and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — violated the Hatch Act by criticizing now-President Joe Biden's campaign during media appearances. 

Representatives of Kushner and Meadows did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Andy Sullivan, Aurora Ellis and Howard Goller) 

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