Pompeo’s Jerusalem speech violated Hatch Act, complaint says

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo committed an “egregious violation” of the Hatch Act by delivering a video-taped speech from Israel to the Republican National Convention, according to a complaint filed by two law professors with the State Department’s inspector general.

Past secretaries of state have gone to lengths to avoid the appearance of partisan political activity, particularly during nominating conventions for the administrations they served. Pompeo’s speech violated the 1939 law, which limits the commingling of political activity and government business, says the complaint, filed late Wednesday.

During the speech, which was filmed during a diplomatic mission using Old Jerusalem as a backdrop, Pompeo praised President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. He also celebrated the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an issue of particular importance to white evangelicals who are a crucial voting block for Trump.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from Jerusalem during the second night of the Republican National Convention on August 25, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

“This video is an egregious violation of the Hatch Act,” wrote Claire O. Finkelstein and Richard W. Painter, the two law school professors. “Secretary Pompeo at the same time as he was on a diplomatic mission to Israel gave a partisan political speech for an RNC campaign video in which he referred to the US embassy in Israel, said that a candidate in a partisan election — Donald Trump — should get credit for the relocation of that embassy.”

— AP

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