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White House Names Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Replacement, and She’s a Hatch Act Violator


Great news. We have a new White House Press Secretary to replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Bad News: Stephanie Grisham, former spokesperson to First Lady Melania Trump and former campaign staffer, already has something of a history of violating federal law.

In September 2018, Grisham was the subject of an official finding and corresponding warning by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for posting #MAGA and a photograph of a 2015 campaign rally on her official Twitter account. OSC concluded that Grisham violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

OSC’s warning letter to Grisham specified that future engagement in prohibited political activity will be considered, “a willful and knowing violation of the law, which could result in further action.”

The Trump administration has been plagued by Hatch Act violations. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino Jr. and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway were each cited for Hatch Act violations. The OSC recently recommended Conway’s removal from federal service, but President Donald Trump declined to fire her.

According to OSC, violations of the Hatch Act can result in “removal from federal service, reduction in grade, debarment from federal service for a period not to exceed 5 years, suspension, letter of reprimand, or a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.” Also according to OSC, the purpose of the Hatch Act in limiting political activities of federal employees working in the executive branch is to ensure “programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.​​​​” The president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act.

[Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos