United Nations ambassador and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley may have violated federal law by using her official Twitter account for political activity, according to a complaint filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
The group says that Haley likely violated the Hatch Act by re-tweeting the first of a chain of tweets from President Trump posted in support of the election of then-congressional candidate Ralph Norman.
“Ralph Norman, who is running for Congress in SC’s 5th District, will be a fantastic help to me in cutting taxes, and” In a second tweet that was part of the same thread, President Trump continued, “getting great border security and healthcare. #VoteRalphNorman tomorrow!”
Haley later deleted the retweet.
The retweet came from a Twitter account that identified Haley as the “United States Ambassador to the United Nations” and featured a cropped version of her official photo from the State Department’s website. The header photo showed Haley standing with President Trump and 14 UN ambassadors in the White House.
The Hatch Act prohibits any executive branch employee from “us[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” The Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) guidance on applying the Hatch Act prohibitions to social media, including Twitter, specifically advises that an employee may not “use a Facebook or Twitter account in his official capacity to engage in political activity” and requires that “any social media account created in a federal employee’s official capacity should be limited to official business and remain politically neutral.”
Trump was not affected by the provision because he used his personal Twitter account when posting the Norman support tweets rather than his official government account.