In remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington DC on February 23, Michael O’Rielly, a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) violated the Hatch Act when he called for the reelection of President Donald Trump while appearing in his official capacity as a federal official.
“I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, the Senate, and make sure that President Trump gets re-elected.”
– FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, speaking at CPAC, February 23, 2018
The Hatch Act explicitly prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity while on duty. O’Rielly was appearing at CPAC in his official capacity as a commissioner of the FCC – the government body which oversees regulation of the news media and the internet – and his call for Trump’s reelection violated direct guidance issued by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) regarding federal employees and President Trump.
Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel asking for an immediate investigation into O’Rielly’s statements.
Statement from American Oversight Executive Director, Austin Evers:
“Commissioner O’Rielly’s naked partisanship fundamentally undermines the independence that is supposed to be at the heart of the FCC’s work. It’s unlikely the public’s trust can be restored by anything less than his resignation because everyone now knows what his ultimate goal is: the reelection of Donald Trump.”
American Oversight’s letter to OSC is below: