Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

House Homeland Security chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) sent a letter to the Office of Special Counsel Wednesday urging an ethics investigation into acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf after he participated in a naturalization ceremony aired at the Republican National Convention.

Why it matters: Thompson alleges that Wolf violated the Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity but does not apply to the president or vice president. The Office of Special Counsel is the independent agency that enforces the Hatch Act.

What they're saying: "This is an unprecedented politicization of the naturalization ceremony – an official function of the Department of Homeland Security," Thompson wrote.

  • "Mr. Wolf's participation appears to constitute engaging in political activity while acting in an official capacity."
  • "It also sets a bad example for the Department’s 240,000 employees who are required to comply with the Hatch Act. Accordingly, I urge you to investigate Mr. Wolf’s participation in this event to determine whether it violated the law."

The big picture: The Hatch Act hasn't been particularly effective in the Trump era.

  • The Office of Special Counsel determined last year 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.
  • During the RNC, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his address from Jerusalem, which has prompted a separate Hatch Act investigation led by Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).
  • The administration has denied that President Trump's decision to deliver his RNC speeches from the White House is a violation of the Hatch Act. On Wednesday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows downplayed Hatch Act concerns, telling Politico: "Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares."

Axios has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment but has not heard back.

Go deeper

Wolf says "all options" on the table for ending violent protests in Portland

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told ABC's "This Week" that "all options continue to be on the table" in terms of sending federal law enforcement into Portland to quell violent protests.

Why it matters: Tensions in Portland reached new heights after a person was killed on Saturday night during clashes between protesters and Trump supporters. Wolf could not share more details on the incident because the investigation is ongoing, but he called on local officials to allow federal law enforcement to step in.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Aug 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump mulled "settling" with Mueller amid Russia investigation

Cover: Random House

One of the crazy nuggets in a deeply reported book by the N.Y. Times' Michael Schmidt — "Donald Trump v. the United States," out tomorrow — is that President Trump mulled the idea of "settling" with special counsel Robert Mueller.

What he's saying: "At one point, as the investigation seemed to be intensifying," Schmidt writes, Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn "that there was nothing to worry about because if it was zeroing in on him, he would simply settle with Mueller. He would settle the case, as if he were negotiating terms in a lawsuit."

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.