A Shameful Mis-appropriation of Government Resources

By Patrick Carrick and Kevin Parker

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As former federal U.S. government officials, both military and civilian, we are outraged by the flagrant disregard of rules concerning property, resources, and personnel — contrary to law — by the Trump administration.

All federal employees, including members of Congress and their staffs, are trained from the moment they are hired or elected until they leave government service that it is unethical and counter to our national interests to use any government facilities or equipment to conduct any partisan political activity.

It is unlawful and prohibited for any government employee to directly, visibly support partisan political events in conjunction with, or in any way related to, their employment. The specific law that applies to federal employees, the Hatch Act, is clear and specific in describing prohibited activities.

The Hatch Act was established in 1939 to ensure that government resources, owned by all Americans, would not be used by those currently in power to gain political advantage. This is an essential feature of our democratic republic that ensures government is “of, by, and for the people,” and it clearly separates us from the disdain for the rule of law by authoritarian despots and totalitarian dictators.

U.S. law restricts American citizens who work for the federal government from a wide range of political activities and is an important tool to ensure that our great country is not taken over by an extreme political leader or party seeking absolute power. In the past, this law has been meticulously observed.

For example, during George W. Bush’s administration, a deputy assistant secretary of defense was observed talking with Republican Party officials in the Pentagon about running for Congress. This meeting was leaked to the Washington Post and the official resigned immediately because he did not want to bring disrespect on the Department of Defense or break the law. How different things have been in the current administration.

We reject the position of the President’s Chief of Staff that “no one outside the beltway” will care about violations of the Hatch Act. Many people outside of Washington, as do we, care deeply about violations of the rule of law.

The presentations by several of the speakers at the Republican National Convention were conducted in clear violation of the law. It is particularly galling for the President to use the White House as a prop for divisive, partisan political activities. Even if the President and Vice President are not subject to the Hatch Act, all their staff members — paid by US taxpayers — are liable for these violations.

The President and his appointees should know better, but, as usual, he fails to take any responsibility for the criminal activities of his own and his subordinates. The President’s efforts have forced government civilian and military staff — our former colleagues — to violate the law and their oath to protect and defend the US Constitution.

Donald Trump and his administration have required government officials to choose between doing what is ethical and keeping their jobs. This is unacceptable, and shows, at best, poor judgement on the part of the President, and at worst, blatant criminal activity by him and other members of his administration.

The current Administration recklessly disregards the law when it benefits their political interests, but denigrates and abuses others when they do not pledge loyalty to the President. This is not only shameful and hypocritical, but also criminal and should be prosecuted.

A “law and order President” that willfully ignores the law is nothing less than an autocrat, is extremely dangerous, and should be held accountable by the American public on November 3rd.

Dr. Patrick Carrick, retired from the federal Senior Executive Service, served as Chief Scientist for the Department of Homeland Security, S&T Directorate and Director of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. Prior to service at DHS, he was a SES Director of Physics and Electronics at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, serving as acting AFOSR Director from 2013 to 2014. He served for 29 years as a federal civil servant with both DoD and DHS. He has a BS from the University of Wisconsin, an MS from the National Defense University in Washington, DC, and a Ph.D from Rice University, Texas.

Kevin Parker is a retired U.S. Navy Captain with 34 years of military service, both enlisted and officer. He has served as Commanding Officer of three U.S. Navy warships and has been stationed in Japan, Italy and the Pentagon, among other locations. He holds a MS in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University, Washington, DC and a MA in National Security Affairs, Far East, Asia, and Pacific from Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA.

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