Senator calls for Hatch Act investigation over tweet

A tweet sent by Dan Scavino, assistant to the president and White House director of social media, may have violated the Hatch Act. Now Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is asking the Office of Special Counsel to investigate whether Scavino engaged in political activity while in an official capacity.

“As the Special Counsel, you have authority to review potential Hatch Act violations,” Carper wrote. “I request that you use the authority Congress granted you under the Hatch Act of 1939, as amended, to ‘receive any allegation of a prohibited personnel practice and shall investigate the allegation to the extent necessary to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel practice has occurred, exists, or is to be taken.’”

Scavino sent the tweet in question on April 1, encouraging Trump voters to vote against Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) in a primary.

People on Twitter quickly began pointing out that the tweet likely violated the Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from engaging in political activity.

Carper’s letter acknowledges that Scavino used his personal Twitter account, but argues in his letter that it’s very easy to confuse his personal account with his professional account.

“These two accounts are nearly indistinguishable,” Carper said in the letter. “Both his official and personal Twitter accounts use the same profile and background images, which, as of the date of Mr. Scavino’s tweet, are, respectively, an image of Mr. Scavino in the Oval Office and of President Donald Trump giving a speech in front of the America flag. Mr. Scavino’s nearly identical Twitter pages could easily create the impression that he is acting in an official capacity when engaging in political activity on his personal account.”

As of this story’s publication, Scavino’s personal and professional Twitter accounts use different images, and the personal account clearly identifies itself in the bio.

Carper’s letter also stated that it’s unclear whether Scavino tweeted while on duty, from federal property, or whether he was encouraging political contributions, any of which would be separate violations under the Hatch Act.

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