Meadows has it backward. The people who really care about the Hatch Act are the people outside the Beltway. Because those are the people directly affected by abuses of the act. The only ones who don’t care are the people who benefit from not caring. Oddly enough, Meadows used to know that. Because the guy who wrote some of the toughest penalties around the act was Mark Meadows.
When my mother worked as a secretary at a government agency, she was forbidden from wearing a political pin or having a bumper sticker on her car. Millions of Americans, whether they’re at the FBI or the Post Office, know and follow the law as defined in the Hatch Act. And there’s a very good reason—access to government power and resources means that government employees, top to bottom, have the ability to affect elections in ways that far exceed normal citizens. Also, there’s tremendous value in creating a government where someone can pay their property tax, or stand in line for a driver’s license, with a fair degree of assurance that they won’t be subject to penalties or harassment because of political beliefs.
Joe Biden had it exactly right at the Democratic convention: Politicians run for office as representatives of their party; they are expected to govern as representatives of the people.
As The Daily Beast reports, Meadows’ disregard for the Hatch Act comes now, when it’s an inconvenience to him personally. But in the past, Meadows signed on as co-sponsor for legislation that increased the punishments for violations of the act.
And while Meadows now says that people “expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values and they would expect that Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats,” that hasn’t always been the case. When Obama was in office and Meadows was in Congress, he conducted multiple investigations of possible Hatch Act violations, even by low-ranking members of Obama’s administration.
April Sands, who served as an attorney for the Federal Election Committee, was forced to resign after participating in a political internet forum from an office inside an FEC building. Meadows called the action “troubling” and used Sands’ actions as an example in increasing fines for violations of the act (in the Deep Irony department, that bill, which Meadows helped to create, also included expanded protections for whistleblowers).
The truth is: No one who is determined to be a criminal is a big fan of the law. Burglars wish no one cared about theft. Murderers wish no one cared about murder. And in particular, people who want to use their position of power to their advantage, always wish that those outside of that power would just shut the f#ck up and take it.
Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, and other members of the White House staff have repeatedly broken a law that millions of others are required to follow under pain of prosecution and punishment. It is a gross abuse of their position of power, and everyone should care.