House Committee Launches Probe Into Mike Pompeo’s RNC Speech

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly will deliver his RNC speech from Israel.

According to Axios, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) is opening an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Republican National Convention speech “for potentially violating rules that prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain political activities.”

  • The news outlet noted that “Pompeo's decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America's top diplomat staying out of partisan battles.”
  • Pompeo himself has approved internal State Department memos warning employees, and Senate-confirmed officials in particular, not to attend political conventions.

"As the 2020 general election draws near, all Department employees are reminded to review and comply with the restrictions on political activities that apply to Department employees," Pompeo's office wrote in a cable sent last month to all State Department employees.

  • Castro, who chairs the House Foreign Affair's subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, reportedly “has asked Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun to provide details on Pompeo's trip to Jerusalem and preparations for his speech.”
  • A department spokesperson said in a statement that “Secretary Pompeo will address the convention in his personal capacity.”

"No State Department resources will be used. Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo's appearance. The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance," the spokesperson said.

Axios noted,

The Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, hasn't been particularly effective in the Trump era.

The Office of Special Counsel determined that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and recommended she be removed from the federal workforce, but no action was enforced.

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