Tag: backing

USDA head cited for breaking law by backing Trump reelection

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog agency has concluded that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the law in advocating for the reelection of President Donald Trump during an August visit to North Carolina. The Office of Special Counsel called on Perdue to reimburse the government for costs associated with his participation in the event.

The Hatch Act prevents federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are on the job. The Trump White House has been dismissive of alleged violations of the act over the years.

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Politico in late August that “nobody outside of the Beltway really cares” about Hatch Act concerns that were raised during the GOP nominating convention. The White House also declined to act on the Office of Special Counsel’s calls last year to fire then-senior counselor Kellyanne Conway for being a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act. Conway has since left the White House.

The Office of Special Counsel said Perdue can refer to the president’s actions and how the administration is helping American citizens. But in North Carolina, he also chose to a make a case for the president’s reelection and encouraged those in attendance and watching remotely to support Trump’s reelection.

“While Secretary Perdue has an unquestioned First Amendment right to campaign for the president on his own time and in his personal capacity, he has no such right to do so in his official capacity and at taxpayer expense,” wrote Ana Galindo-Marrone, chief of the watchdog’s Hatch Act unit. The letter was addressed to an official at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a private advocacy group that filed a complaint against Perdue for his statements in North Carolina.

The USDA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.


Galindo-Marrone said the department has defended Perdue by saying that he did not encourage attendees to vote for a candidate or party. Instead, Perdue predicted future behavior based on the president’s focus on helping “forgotten people” and “farmers who were suffering.”

“We’ve never seen an outpouring of compassion like that for people who matter, because people matter to you,” Perdue said of Trump. “And that’s what’s important to me. And that’s what’s gonna continue to happen — four more years — if America gets out and votes for this man, Donald J. Trump,” Perdue said, prompting those in the crowd to chant “four more years.”

The Office of Special Counsel said it would close its file on the matter once Perdue provided documentation of his reimbursement to the federal treasury. It said if he continues to engage in prohibited political activity while secretary, “we will consider such activity to be a knowing and willful violation of the law that will likely result in further action.”

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Biden deflects Trump’s demand at debate to ‘name one’ law enforcement group backing him

Democratic nominee Joe Biden would not answer when pressed by President Trump during Tuesday night’s presidential debate about whether he has any backing from law enforcement groups.

Both candidates have the backing of various law enforcement groups, but the Trump campaign has leaned into the endorsements much more as the Biden campaign has dealt with a push from the left to defund police departments.

PENNSYLVANIA SHERIFF, LIFELONG DEM, DECIDES TO BACK TRUMP AMID UNREST

“He’s talking about defunding the police. … He has no law enforcement support,” Trump said Tuesday night in Ohio. “Who do you have? Name one group that supports you.”

“That’s not true. … We don’t have time to do anything,” Biden said, sparking a back-and-forth.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the first presidential debate Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

“We have time,” Trump insisted.

Fox News Sunday anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace then turned the discussion toward recent unrest in Portland.

More than 175 current and former law enforcement officers and officials, including former Obama official Janet Napolitano, endorsed Biden for president earlier in September while slamming Trump as a “lawless” president. Groups including Florida’s largest police union and the Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed Trump.

In June, when “defund the police” became a rallying cry for many of the protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, Biden called for police reform but said he did not support defunding police departments.

Biden has said he wants reforms, including more funding for public schools, summer programs and mental health and substance abuse treatment, including a $300 million investment in the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

TRUMP SAYS DEMS’ ‘WAR ON COPS’ PUTS ‘POLICE LIVES IN DANGER,’ CALLS FOR END TO BIDEN’S ‘ANTI-POLICE CRUSADE’

Biden has also said he supported conditional funding for police departments in a July video interview with NowThis conducted by progressive activist Ady Barkan.

“If they don’t eliminate chokeholds, they don’t get Byrne grants; if they don’t do the following, they don’t get any help,” he said. “If they don’t do, because you know as well as I do, the vast majority of all police departments are funded by the locality, funded by the municipality, funded by the state. It’s only the federal government comes in on top of that, and so it says you want help, you have to do the following reforms, you have to make sure you have no-knock warrants eliminated, if you have them, you don’t get Byrne grants.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with a group of sheriffs from around the country before leaving the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, for a trip to El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with a group of sheriffs from around the country before leaving the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, for a trip to El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Byrne grants through the Justice Department are the “leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions,” according to the program’s webpage.

Conservatives have continually called out Biden for saying he supports redirecting

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