FCC commissioner’s support of Trump at CPAC could be an ethics violation

Senate Democrats have asked for an investigation into whether Michael O’Rielly, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner, violated the Hatch Act by supporting Donald Trump, according to a report.

Seven Democrats have sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the FCC Inspector General asking watchdogs to probe comments O’Rielly, a Republican, made at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last month, CNN reports.

Specifically, O’Rielly said he hopes that “we elect good people to both the House, Senate and make sure that President Trump gets reelected,” according to the letter.

The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, bars government officials from using their authority in office to influence elections.

“At the time he answered this question, Mr. O’Rielly was appearing in his official capacity and promoting a political candidate who has already filed election paperwork,” the letter reads, according to CNN. “Mr. O’Rielly’s statement appears to directly meet the definition of advocacy and, if so, is clearly in violation of guidance issued by OSC and by consequence the Hatch Act. This warrants further review.”

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) signed the letter.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel recently found that Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Trump, violated the Hatch Act twice in the run-up to the special election in Alabama after making comments against Democrat Doug Jones, who was running against Roy Moore, a Republican.

Dan Scavino Jr., the White House’s social media director, was also found in violation of the Hatch Act last year for tweeting that the “#TrumpTrain” was needed to help defeat a Republican who had been critical of Trump.


Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).