Ex-Trump Washington state campaign chair cleared of Hatch Act complaint
by Rachel Frazin, The Hill, March 23, 2019
A former Washington state senator who chaired President Trump's 2016 campaign in the state has been cleared of allegations that he abused his position as head of the Selective Service System when he spoke last year at a GOP fundraiser in Hawaii.
The Seattle Times reported Friday that Don Benton, who has served as director of the Selective Service since April 2017, was accused of violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits individuals from using their authority to influence election results.
The Times published a letter from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which investigates possible Hatch Act violations, which said that Benton’s title was displayed on screen while he spoke at the event.
The OSC found that Benton told the Hawaii Republican Party that his title could only be mentioned in his biography and introduction and that he said during his speech that he was only speaking in his personal capacity.
"After the event, the Party sent you a letter taking responsibility for the fact that, despite your directions, Party interns had displayed your official title on the screen," the letter said.
“Because you provided the Party with advance notice that the restrictions on the use of your official title and during the speech you asserted that you were speaking in your personal capacity, we believe that the Party acted without your permission,” it continued. "Therefore, OSC has concluded that you did not violate the Hatch Act."
Benton said in a statement to The Times that he expected to be cleared of wrongdoing.
"As expected, I have been cleared of this unfounded complaint," he said.
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, had reportedly filed the complaint against Benton last year.
A spokesperson for the group told the newspaper that the investigation showed Benton "took a meaningful step to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest at this event."
"It seems that the Hatch Act Unit took this matter seriously and we consider the matter resolved," the spokesperson said.
read … The Hill
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