A re-tweet does equal an endorsement.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been reprimanded for a tweet about a S.C. candidate that violated rules barring federal employees – including ambassadors – from endorsing candidates for public office.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington applauded the action Tuesday. The Washington watchdog group had filed a complaint in June with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel about the tweet.
On June 19, the former S.C. governor re-tweeted a post by President Donald Trump endorsing GOP candidate Ralph Norman, running for the 5th District congressional seat in a special election. Norman went on to win the seat, formerly held by Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney.
But, under the Hatch Act, federal employees are prohibited “from using their official position to advance or oppose candidates for partisan office,” according to a letter from the Special Counsel’s office responding to the watchdog’s complaint.
Haley’s re-tweet, from an account she also uses to post about U.N. business and her activities as ambassador, “gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity when she used this account to re-tweet President Trump’s message,” the Special Counsel found.
When she was alerted to the violation, Haley deleted the tweet, the Special Counsel’s letter says. The former S.C. governor also was given “advice” on how to avoid future violations. However, government lawyers “decided not to pursue disciplinary action.”
“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,” the watchdog group’s executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said in a press release. “Ambassador Haley should have known better.”
The tweet wasn’t Haley’s only involvement in the 5th District race. Haley also made a $100 donation to Norman’s GOP primary campaign.
Trump did not violate the Hatch Act with his original tweet endorsing Norman. As an elected official, he is allowed to take part in political activity.