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Report Claims Ben Carson Broke Law at Trump’s Latest Rally

The Washington Post believes Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson may have violated the Hatch Act Tuesday night.

In a piece written by Phillip Bump that is labeled as “analysis,” The Post makes its case tht the law was broken.

Attention was first brought to the issue Tuesday night on social media.

Bump explained in his piece, which is titled, “Why Ben Carson’s appearance in Phoenix was likely a violation of federal law,” that when Ben Carson was introduced at the rally, the announcer used his official title.

“The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson,” the announcer said as Carson waved and smiled. Carson went on to give a speech at the rally.

“And, as simply as that, a law was likely broken,” The Post story said.

Bump wrote that the Hatch Act, which is designed to keep federal officeholders from mixing poltiics and public service, covers Cabinet members and elected officials.

“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 Post wrote.

The act “prevents government employees from using their position and their station to promote candidates or political parties,” said 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.”

Noble said proper compliance would have meant introducing Carson without his title.

“He should have told them in advance that they cannot use his title,” Noble said. “Once hearing the introduction, he should have made clear he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as secretary.”

Noble said in light of the current administration, Carson’s alleged infraction is “relatively minor.”

“Some of these things, in the total scheme of things, in a normal presidency, you might raise it,” Noble said. “In a presidency where they’re doing all of these things, it’s relatively minor. But you hate to let it go, because this is what it’s all about in the end.”

Not everyone agreed with the Washington Post article.

A story in the Arizona Republic that reflected upon social media discussion of the issue, determined the law was not violated.

In response to the controversy, HUD spokesperson said in an email to The Washington Post that the department did not believe there was a violation of the Hatch Act.

“Dr. Carson’s travel and lodging were not paid for by the Department. Dr. Carson was there in his personal capacity. Additionally, he did not discuss HUD during his speech. We are unaware of what instructions, if any, were provided to the announcer,” the statement said.

“All other references during the event refer to him as Dr. Carson. In this instance he did not hear his name before he was cued to go on. We are consulting with our Ethics Office on the matter to ensure it doesn’t occur again.”