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Pascrell and Warren Unveil Political CRIMES Act

Bill will put teeth into Hatch Act, establish an Independent Counsel to probe self-enrichment crime spree by Trump officials

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), joined by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) today unveiled the Political Corruption Review of Infractions for Misconduct by Executive Servants (CRIMES) Act, legislation to strengthen the Hatch Act to better stop the self-enrichment by government officials that was rampant in the Trump regime.

“Public servants should not be able to treat the federal government as a piggy bank to be pilfered from and pillaged. Yet, this is precisely what occurred in the last administration, where Trump regime appointees used their public offices to line their pockets and made a mockery of the law,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Today Senator Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Mike Quigley, and I are unveiling vital legislation to repair and rearm our main shield against government corruption: the Hatch Act. Too many Trump stooges like Kellyanne Conway and Kayleigh McEnany and family members masquerading as public servants like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner violated the Hatch Act without major consequence. Recognizing the current gaps in the law, this bill would expand the scope of the Hatch Act to apply to all executive branch public servants and impose significant financial and criminal penalties on crooked government officials. In a perverse blessing, the Trump years exposed weaknesses in our legal guardrails. We can’t lose any more time in fixing them. I want to thank Senator Warren and my colleague Rep. Quigley for their dedication to cleaning up government corruption.”

“Donald Trump was the most corrupt President in history,” said Sen. Warren. “He and his cronies in the administration routinely ignored ethics rules with no accountability for their blatant corruption. We have to rebuild the public’s faith that government officials will follow basic ethics rules, and that’s why I’m glad to introduce this bill with Rep. Pascrell to strengthen the Hatch Act and punish those who break the law.”

“The previous administration continuously and shamelessly flouted ethics guidelines, violating the Hatch Act repeatedly throughout their time in office,” said Rep. Quigley. “Despite recommendations from OSC and complaints from the public, not a single official faced consequences or was removed from their position. We must take steps to show Americans that there are consequences for violating the public’s trust and make it clear to every future administration that no one is above the law.”

The breadth and volume of Hatch Act violations and alleged violations by top officials in the Trump regime has been well documented by reports from Senator Warren’s office and CREW. A roundup of these violations is available here.

The Political CRIMES Act will hold wrongdoing accountable by:

  • Establishing an Independent Counsel to probe all Hatch Act violations occurring during the previous 10 years
  • Creating an Inspector General in the Office of Special Counsel to ensure future investigations are conducted within the boundaries of current law
  • Removing any political interference in the violation referral process
  • Expanding individuals covered by the Hatch Act and clarify where the Hatch Act applies
  • Adding a criminal penalty for Hatch Act violations for the first time
  • Increasing the Hatch Act fine violation to $5,000, which would double for every subsequent violation
  • Requesting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of any political events held on the White House grounds

During the Trump administration, Rep. Pascrell was a leading member of Congress highlighting Hatch Act violations by Kellyanne Conway, Trump family members, and other top officials. On Election Day 2020, Pascrell sent an emergency plea to the U.S. Special Counsel demanding a federal probe of plans by the Trump regime to use the White House and Old Executive Office Building as a campaign day command center and Election Day war room.

A section-by-section breakdown of the Pascrell and Warren Political CRIMES Act is available here.

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