Zinke’s socks violated law

By: Michael Doyle, E&E News, June 6, 2019

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s overtly political fashion sense ran afoul of federal law, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded.

In a newly revealed ruling, the watchdog agency determined that Zinke violated the Hatch Act on June 26, 2018, when he tweeted out a picture of himself wearing “Make America Great Again” socks at Mount Rushmore.

“Because Secretary Zinke wore these socks to an official event and also authorized their display on his official Twitter account, he violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition against using his official position to influence an election,” wrote Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the OSC’s Hatch Act Unit.

Galindo-Marrone added in the Dec. 20, 2018, letter that “we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action and instead issued him a warning letter.”

The OSC’s letter to the Campaign for Accountability, which had filed the Hatch Act complaint, came shortly after Zinke’s Dec. 15, 2018, announcement that he would resign. He stepped down in January amid several other ongoing ethics investigations.

Daniel Stevens, executive director of the Campaign for Accountability, noted that “though Zinke was under investigation by many offices, this investigation was the first to conclude that Zinke violated federal law.” He further suggested this had consequences.

“Zinke undoubtedly had notice of OSC’s finding prior to his resignation,” Stevens said in an email today, adding that “we think it’s probable that the Office of Special Counsel’s confirmation that Zinke violated the law contributed to his resignation.”

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