On October 29th a complaint was filed against the F.B.I. with the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations, and with the Office of Governmental Ethics. It was filed by Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and the former chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, during the Bush administration. He explains why he filed this complaint in an article in The New York Times. Painter argues, “the F.B.I.’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election.” The Hatch Act “bars the use of an official position to influence an election.” The evidence page outlines the different ways the FBI failed to follow this law. Painter concludes his article saying,
This is no trivial matter. We cannot allow F.B.I. or Justice Department officials to unnecessarily publicize pending investigations concerning candidates of either party while an election is underway. That is an abuse of power. Allowing such a precedent to stand will invite more, and even worse, abuses of power in the future.
Painter’s petition was filed before election day. Now that the candidate that was harmed by the FBI’s violations of the Hatch Act suffered a close and surprising loss, Painter’s complaint takes on a whole new significance. This petition is intended to express support for Painter’s complaint. If you would like to do so, clink on the link below and sign the petition.