In response to American Oversight’s complaint, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) found Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). O’Rielly advocated for Donald Trump’s re-election while speaking at CPAC in his official capacity.
“Commissioner O’Rielly flouted the requirements of his position when he pushed for Trump’s re-election, and OSC’s conclusion that he violated the Hatch Act confirms our concern that O’Rielly is undermining the independence of the FCC. Public trust in the FCC won’t be restored until O’Rielly resigns,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight.
On February 23, the day of O’Rielly’s speech, American Oversight sent a letter to OSC calling for an investigation into whether O’Rielly violated the Hatch Act. That law prohibits most executive branch employees from using their authority to influence an election. As O’Rielly expressly called for the re-election of Donald Trump while giving a speech in his formal role as FCC commissioner, OSC issued O’Rielly a warning for violating the Hatch Act. According to OSC’s letter to American Oversight, O’Rielly could face action from OSC if he engages in prohibited political activity in the future.
O’Rielly isn’t the first Trump official to violate the Hatch Act. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway was cited for airing political opinions on the Alabama special election, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was found to have violated the Hatch Act when she retweeted Donald Trump’s endorsement of a congressional candidate in South Carolina.
See OSC’s letter to American Oversight below: