Scott Pruitt, In His Excess, May Have Violated the Hatch Act

Scott Pruitt, In His Excess, May Have Violated the Hatch Act

Scott Pruitt, Destructor of the EPA, has brought in Definers Public Affairs, associated with a Republican group, America Rising, that digs up scurrilous background material on candidates, in order to monitor public utterances of EPA personnel. They then use Freedom of Information requests to check their email for any comments against Donald Trump, and even against Scott Pruitt himself!

We don’t know what Pruitt has done with this information or planned to do with it, but it can’t be either good or kosher. The key point is supposedly if employees did this using government email, or on work time. Since their work is to evaluate policies suggested for the EPA, including by Trump and Pruitt, it seems like they were just doing their jobs. It’s not as if they were playing video games during work time.

The problem for Pruitt is called the Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from participating in politics, ESPECIALLY, using government funds and resources. Yet Pruitt has done just that with EPA funds, paying a patently political firm to gather information against the “deep state” employees.

Well, I’m sure the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, will immediately see the necessity of halting this violation of the Hatch Act, which is suspiciously like McCarthyism, or KGB monitoring, and will evaluate if Scott Pruitt has to be fired. Yea, sure. But the contracted monitoring agency, once exposed, has quit the job already. Yet, it doesn’t let Pruitt off from having already violated the Hatch Act.

It’s not just the legal technicality of violating the Hatch Act. It’s the Big Brother aspect of monitoring employees every breath or word, which violates freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, the right to privacy, and the ability to research and think independently, which is why we hire people in the first place. Yet Trump, and apparently Scott Pruitt, prefer a military rigidity of top-down taking orders without question, no matter how destructive, and against-the-mission, the orders are.

Well, I’m not a lawyer, so this may not be right. In normal times, with normal cabinet members, this would present, however, a bad public appearance, and engender severe public backlash. But these are not normal times.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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