The Trump administration found a way to break virtually every anti-corruption law on the books, so it wasn’t surprising that Trump officials violated the Hatch Act on a regular basis. Nor was it surprising that these violations were never punished, even when internal watchdogs flagged the violations, because the Trump regime was never going to police itself.
Some folks on social media got carried away with the idea that the Hatch Act could somehow put people on trial or in prison, but as Palmer Report spent four years pointing out, the most severe punishment allowable under the Hatch Act was a monetary fine and loss of government employment. Still, the Trump regime was unwilling to even hand out those kinds of punishments to violators.
But with Donald Trump now gone, that’s all changed. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a watchdog agency that deals with these kinds of violations, formally punished former HUD official Lynne Patton today, in the form of a thousand dollar fine and a four year ban from federal employment. This may not sound like much of a punishment, but again, it’s what the Hatch Act allows for – and now it’s finally being enforced.
Now that one Trump-era violation of the Hatch Act has been punished, we’re interested in seeing how many more such violations end up being punished. Numerous top level Trump White House officials committed Hatch Act violations in repeated fashion, so there are plenty of additional targets for punishment.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report