WH adviser Peter Navarro accused of violating Hatch Act

The US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has accused White House trade adviser Peter Navarro of having violating the Hatch Act and urged President Donald Trump to take “appropriate disciplinary action”, such as a fine or removal from office, the media reported.

The Hatch Act, a US federal law enacted in 1939, prohibits federal executive branch employees from using their official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election, Xinhua news agency reported.

Under the relevant statute, the punishments for a Hatch Act violation can include removal from office, a reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for up to five years, suspension or reprimand.

In a report to Trump on Monday, the OSC said: “From May 26 through October 19, 2020, during at least six media interviews where he appeared in his official capacity as Assistant to the President and Director of the Office on Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Navarro repeatedly attacked presidential candidate Joe Biden and/or vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

It said that Navarro also made frequent use of his Twitter account to attack both Biden and Harris, reports Politico news.

“He committed these violations after having received training on the Hatch Act and, for most of the violations, while knowing that OSC was investigating him for engaging in the same prohibited political activity,” the report said.

The Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, whose responsibilities include enforcing the Hatch Act.

Navarro, also director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, is the latest of several administration officials who have been criticised or investigated for violating the Hatch Act.

Earlier, the President Trump refused to fire former senior adviser Kellyanne Conway after the OSC recommended that he take that action for her repeatedly breaking the Hatch Act.

In October, the OSC ordered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in October to reimburse taxpayers for using an official event to promote Trump’s re-election.

It is also currently investigating Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for remarks she made about Biden in a Fox News interview and later posted on YouTube.