Hatch Act does not prohibit Trump from delivering RNC acceptance speech on White House grounds, agency says
House Oversite Committee Ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., announced Wednesday night that President Trump is legally able to deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn.
Comer told Fox News Wednesday in a statement that the Hatch Act does not prevent Trump’s use of the venue. He said that will likely not stop Democrats who “continue to deflect, deter and undermine every lawful action” by the president.
“Truth be told, Democrats should be comforted knowing that the President can deliver his acceptance speech from home since they are so concerned about him traveling for events these days,” he added.
Questions surrounding whether the president could give his GOP nomination acceptance speech at the White House arose after reports surfaced last week suggesting the Trump campaign was considering the White House as an alternative venue.
Trump then tweeted Monday that the location had been narrowed down to two locations, “The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C. We will announce the decision soon!”
The Hatch Act prohibits federal officials from engaging in political partisan activities, including White House staffers. Though the act does not pertain to the Vice President or the President.
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But if White House staff attended the president’s RNC acceptance speech at the White House, they may be in violation of the act.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel reviewed the Hatch Act advisory in accordance with Trump’s expected speech and noted that if the staffers took leave and the event was held on the South lawn or East Wing — which is the residential portion of the White House– then the Hatch Act would not pertain to the staffers.
If Trump chose to give his speech from the West Wing, then they would not be allowed to participate or attend.
“If I use the White House, we save tremendous amounts of money for the government in terms of security, traveling. If we go to another state or some other location, the amount of money is very enormous,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “I think it would be a very convenient location and by far the least expensive location.”
Trump was originally expected to give the speech in Jacksonville, Fla., later this month, though plans were changed due to the number of coronavirus cases in the Sunbelt state.
Should Trump choose to use the White House as his backdrop for his RNC acceptance speech, it would break with the previous precedent set by other presidents who separated their campaigns from their Commander in Chief roles.