Meadows dismisses Hatch Act concerns at RNC: 'Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares'

Source: Politico | August 26, 2020 | Matthew Choi

Trump administration officials have come under scrutiny for accepting speaking roles at the RNC.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday dismissed accusations that Trump administration officials violated federal law by speaking at the Republican National Convention, arguing that critics have overstretched the bounds of the Hatch Act.

“What it’s really designed to do is to make sure people like myself and others do not use their political position to try to convince other employees other federal employees that they need to vote one way, need to register one way or need to campaign in one way,” Meadows said. “We take it on well beyond the original intent of the Hatch Act.”

“Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares. They expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats,” he continued. “So listen, this is a lot of hoopla that’s being made about things, mainly because the convention has been so unbelievably successful.”

Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Economic Director Larry Kudlow and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, have come under scrutiny for accepting speaking roles at the RNC, positions which critics claim violate federal law banning most executive branch employees from political activity. The White House has largely ignored those concerns.

Pompeo’s speech, delivered from Jerusalem during an official trip to the Middle East by the secretary, has been the subject of particular criticism. Pompeo has insisted his speech was delivered in his personal capacity and on his own time, away from his official duties as the nation’s top diplomat. But critics have complained that the secretary’s speech came while he was on taxpayer-funded official travel and that it broke with State Department guidance barring employees from publicly backing political candidates.

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    No, Mark, it is a concern for a lot of us that while this administration preaches law and order, it either skirts the law or ignores it altogether. I’ve heard some disagreement about the application of the Hatch Act to the president and vice president, but a normal president would at least want to avoid the appearance of impropriety and be mindful of ethical concerns. But we don’t have a normal president. This president has always considered himself to be above the law and his actions during the convention over the last few days have proven it.

    But what really burns me up are the images above and others from the various live events. We are told to practice social distancing and wear masks; yet, I don’t see either in any of the photos and videos. I understand even Louis Gohmert, who recently tested positive for COVID, was at the president’s speech. These people want us to follow the rules and guidelines, but they won’t do so themselves. “Rules are for thee, but not for me.” In a floundering campaign, do these people really think their elitist attitudes are going to win them any more voters? I guess they think they have enough of a voter base to win; they don’t need anyone else. That attitude will be a mistake.

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