UNITED STATES— The U.S. Office of Special Counsel will investigate whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo breached the Hatch Act. Pompeo is alleged to have delivered a pre-recorded speech at the Republic National Convention in August while on official diplomatic travel in Jerusalem.
The Hatch Act of 1939, or An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, prohibits civil service employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president and vice president, from engaging in certain political activities.
“Our offices have confirmed that the Office of Special Counsel has launched a probe into potential Hatch Act violations tied to Secretary Pompeo’s speech to the Republican National Convention,” said Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, in a joint statement.
The statement added: “The State Department has a legal obligation under the Federal Records Act to create and retain documentation of the Department’s actions, including by the Secretary and his inner circle.”
Secretary of State Pompeo has defended his participation in the RNC, saying he did not take part in it as official business. He added that his remarks were cleared by lawyers at the State Department.
Previous probes into Pompeo include a potential Hatch Act violation over his promise to release emails related to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. It was filed by American Oversight, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog group.
Additionally, Pompeo is being investigated for whether his push for the dismissal of the State Department’s inspector general Steve Linick was an act of political retaliation. Linick was also investigating Pompeo for separate allegations.