National Park Service Breaks Hatch Act With Fireworks And Campaign Video On Government Property
The National Park Service (NPS) employees may have violated the Hatch Act by allowing President Donald Trump to host fireworks during the Republican National Convention (RNC) and for the agency’s video promoting the president and praising his actions regarding funding for parks.
The Hatch Act forbids civil service employees from the executive branch of government from engaging in some partisan political activities. This includes engaging in political activity during work.
The video, posted earlier this month from the Interior Department states that “President Trump called on Congress to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and restore our national parks” in response to the passing of the Great American Outdoors Act. However, Trump had proposed cutting the parks’ budget in previous years. He had also been heard to mispronounce Yosemite, the name of one of the most iconic American national parks.
Donald Sherman, deputy director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told The Hill that “Federal appropriations laws make it clear government dollars are meant to be used to serve the American public, not to help political office holders remain in power.” While the RNC has stated that it will reimburse the costs to the NPS for the fireworks display, the permit for the display has been heavily redacted.
Trump gave his nomination acceptance speech in the White House South Lawn, and the setup of the seats for his audience has been noted to not follow proper social distancing guidelines. The speech was followed by fireworks at the Washington Monument. The fireworks spelled out “TRUMP 2020” in the sky. The display was nearly 6 minutes long.
At the same time, hundreds of protesters were gathered in Washington to protest Trump.
Critics of Trump’s actions and the possible violation of the Hatch Act took to Twitter to denounce the president and take action, including Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minnesota), who tweeted, “I’m authoring a bill to ban campaign events and political party conventions from ever being held on the grounds of The White House again. Do I have any co-sponsors out there?”
I’m authoring a bill to ban campaign events and political party conventions from ever being held on the grounds of The White House again. Do I have any co-sponsors out there?
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) August 28, 2020