Apparently, retweets *do* equal endorsements.
A government agency said former South Carolina governor and current United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley violated federal law when she retweeted President Donald Trump’s endorsement of a congressional candidate in her home state.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said Haley’s use of Twitter in this instance violated the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from using their jobs to impact an election. The agency’s finding was revealed Tuesday by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which also filed the original complaint.
“Because Ambassador Haley’s personal Twitter account included so much indicia of her official role as Ambassador and was even linked to the United States Mission to the United Nations website, it gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity,” the agency said in the letter.
Trump had offered his support for then-State Rep. Ralph Norman’s ultimately-successful run for Congress in June. The President tweeted, ““Ralph Norman, who is running for Congress in SC’s 5th District, will be a fantastic help to me in cutting taxes.” Haley’s official Twitter account retweeted the message, sharing it with her followers. Haley and Norman were often allies during her time first in the state House of Representatives, then the Governor’s Office.
“This is already the third time this year that a senior Trump official has been reprimanded for misusing their official position following a CREW complaint,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “Ambassador Haley should have known better.”
The OSC said Haley deleted the post after learning it was a potential violation. The agency said it would not seek any punishment as a result, but warned any future endorsements on Twitter could be considered a willful and knowing violation.