12:33 GMT +325 March 2019
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    Six Members of White House Staff Violated Hatch Act - Special Counsel

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Six members of US President Donald Trump's White House staff have received warnings for violating the US Hatch Act which prohibits any political activity by government employees, the Office of the Special Counsel, a federal body unconnected with the Robert Mueller's probe into allegations of Trump-Russia collusion.

    "We have concluded that these six EOP [Executive Office of the President] employees violated the Hatch Act, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and are closing their files without further action," the Office of the Special Counsel said.

    The six officials receiving warnings were: Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs Helen Aguirre Ferre, Executive Assistant to the President Madeleine Westerhout, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah Press Secretary for the Vice President Alyssa Farah, White House Deputy Director of Communications Jessica Ditto, and Deputy Communications Director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Jacob Wood, the Office of the Special Counsel said.

    Earlier the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) issued a memo to nearly 3 million federal employees, where it noted that federal employees have to avoid "strong criticism or praise of a presidential administration’s policies and actions".

    Considering whether an "advocating for or against impeachment of a candidate for federal office" is political activity, thus, prohibited under the Act, the OSC said "yes".

    The Hatch Act, which is officially known as An Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities, came into force in 1939. Its main provision states that federal executive branch employees, except for the President and the Vice President are not allowed to engage in certain political activities. The legislation has been amended several times — last time in 2012.


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