President Donald Trump welcomed hundreds of Americans to the White House on Saturday, in what appeared to be some sort of campaign rally – guests were on the South Lawn donning “Make America Great Again” gear and “Blexit” T-shirts (Blexit is a movement to encourage Black Americans to abandon the Democratic Party). Because this gathering seemed clearly political, ethic experts questioned the legality of Trump having a military band play at the event.

United States law does not allow the military to support a political party, to ensure that the the military is as nonpartisan as possible. Federal regulations do not allow government resources or federal employees to be used to back a campaign, or benefit a certain candidate. The military band that Trump used is supported by taxpayers, so it brings up the question of whether or not this is a Hatch Act violation. The Hatch Act does not allow any member of the federal government to engage in political activity while using their government position and/or title. The president, who is exempt from the act, is not exempt when it comes to the coercion of other federal employees to engage in such activity.

“The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

This is not the first time Trump has held a campaign event at the White House. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump held the Republican National Convention at the White House. Former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub stated that the use of the White House for a political event such as the RNC is an “abomination” that “may be the most visible misuse of official position for private gain in America’s history.”

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