White House Emails Likely Violated the Hatch Act

The Hatch Act, 5 USC § 7324, states:
(a) A political employee may not engage in political activity —
(1) while the employee is on duty;
(2) in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an individual employed or holding office in the Government of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof;
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(b)(1) An employee described in paragraph (2) of this subsection may engage in political activity otherwise prohibited by subsection (a) if the costs associated with that political activity are not paid for by money derived from the Treasury of the United States.

The Washington Post reports today on findings from a congressional committee looking in to the potential misuse of political email accounts by Bush Administration officials, most prominently Karl Rove. The story, well worth reading if you are not familiar with the scandal, states:

The Republican National Committee told the investigators that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove alone sent or received more than 140,000 e-mails between 2002 and 2007, more than half of which involved individuals using official “.gov” e-mail accounts, a report from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said. The RNC said it still has copies of those e-mails.

Former Rove assistant Susan B. Ralston affirmed in a deposition released by the committee that her ex-boss used his political e-mail account “most of the time.”

While the American justice system posits innocence until guilt is proven, it stretches credulity to believe that Rove and others have not used their political accounts to avoid the record keeping act, and to mask clandestine activity. While Mr. Rove is undoubtedly an energetic and prodigious man, quick calculations show that he sent an average of 76.7 emails a day, every day for five years, on off-the-record accounts. Perhaps an investigation will show that he was simply incredibly active on his myspace page in the wee hours of the morning before he went to work, but somehow one doubts it . . .

Cato