Washington Post: Why Ben Carson’s appearance in Phoenix was likely a violation of federal law


Right before Ben Carson took the stage at President Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the announcer introduced him.

“The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson,” the voice intoned, prompting cheers from the audience. And, as simply as that, a law was likely broken.


Among the prohibitions included in the Hatch Act is one prohibiting Cabinet secretaries from leveraging their positions for a political cause. That means that the head of, say, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can’t appear at a campaign rally in a way that implies he’s doing so in an official capacity. Say, by being introduced with his official title.

The act “prevents government employees from using their position and their station to promote candidates or political parties,” explained Larry Noble, senior director of the Campaign Legal Center. “The idea is that the government, once it’s in government, is supposed to be nonpartisan. It’s really to prevent the abuse of power.”

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