House Democrat Joaquin Castro of Texas has opened an investigation into U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s participation in the Republican National Convention.
Castro sent a letter Tuesday to Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun informing him of the investigation and demanding answers concerning Pompeo’s participation in the event, stating it is a potential violation of the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from political activities while on the job or in their official capacities.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that a sitting U.S. Secretary of State, America’s top diplomat, would use official taxpayer-funded business to participate in a political party convention, particularly after the State Department published guidance that explicitly prohibits such activity,” Castro said in a statement. “The American people deserve a full investigation.”
Pompeo appeared in Tuesday’s convention voicing support for President Donald Trump’s re-election via a video message recorded a day prior while he was visiting Jerusalem on official U.S. government business.
While the State Department has claimed the speech to be appropriate as Pompeo did not use his official title or government resources no legal analysis has been made public, Castro said.
“The Trump administration and Secretary Pompeo have shown a gross disregard not only of basic ethics but also a blatant willingness to violate federal law for political gain,” he said. “Congress has a responsibility to stand up for the rule of law and hold them accountable for this corrupt behavior.”
Pompeo’s appearance at the convention attracted criticism from Democrats for breaking longstanding political precedents.
Following the announcement of Pompeo’s participation in the event, Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, said it would specifically violate two State Department legal restrictions: a memorandum that says political appointees are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity and a foreign affairs manual that prohibits partisan political activities while abroad.
“Once again, the rules go out the window for Secretary Pompeo when they get in the way of serving his political interests and Donald Trump,” Engel said in a statement.
In his letter, Castro asked Biegun to answer a slew of questions in writing by Tuesday about Pompeo’s video appearance and to deliver to him a selection of records and documents by Sept. 10 that include a list of expenditures from Pompeo’s trip during which he recorded his RNC remarks.
“Given the importance to our democracy in ensuring that public resources are not used for improper purposes — a principle that is particularly important in the conduct of the Nation’s foreign policy — I look forward to working with you to address this important issue,” Castro wrote in the letter.
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