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Mike Pompeo at a D.C. press conference on Oct. 21. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by giving a speech to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem, House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a Monday press release.

The big picture: Trump aide Kellyanne Conway did not receive disciplinary action after the special counsel recommended she be removed from service in 2019 after violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in "any part" of a political campaign while officially serving in the government.

Catch up quick: As America's top diplomat, Pompeo broke State Department precedent by speaking at the RNC from abroad — a partisan event that was formatted entirely to focus on President Trump.

What they're saying: Engel and Lowey accused Pompeo of misusing State Department funds "as vehicles for the Administration's, and his own, political ambitions," pointing to a special counsel investigation of Pompeo allegedly misusing agency resources as he tours swing states.

  • The counsel is also investigating Pompeo's "stated commitment to rush out more of Hillary Clinton's emails by Election Day," Engel and Lowey said. Pompeo vowed to release information on Clinton's emails, which President Trump made a major focus of his 2016 presidential campaign, early this month.
  • The agency has "repeatedly missed" deadlines to provide documents on Pompeo's domestic speeches, Engel and Lowey said.

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Health

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

The ransomware pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

"We are on the cusp of a global pandemic," said Christopher Krebs, the first director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in Congressional testimony last week. The virus causing the pandemic isn't biological, however. It's software.

Why it matters: Crippling a major U.S. oil pipeline this weekend initially looked like an act of war — but it's now looking like an increasingly normal crime, bought off-the-shelf from a "ransomware as a service" provider known as DarkSide.

Hollywood's wakeup call

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Decades of failures around diversity and inclusion finally caught up with Hollywood Monday, when NBC made the unprecedented decision not to air the Golden Globes next year following backlash against the group that hosts the show.

Why it matters: NBC has been airing the event exclusively for decades. Its decision to pull back speaks to how big the backlash against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has become.