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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday May 06, @03:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-scratch-my-back dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3941

Republican FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly broke a federal law preventing officials from advocating for political candidates when he told a crowd that one way to avoid policy changes was to "make sure that President Trump gets reelected," according to a newly released letter from government officials. O'Rielly was warned by the officials about making similar comments in the future.

The Hatch Act bars many federal employees from using their offices to influence an election. During the conservative CPAC conference in February, which was also attended by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, O'Rielly was asked about how to avoid rapid swings in policy ushered in by a new administration. "I think what we can do is make sure as conservatives that we elect good people to both the House, the Senate, and make sure that President Trump gets reelected," he responded, adding that there would also be a fight in the US Senate over net neutrality rules.

[...] The office said it has sent a warning letter to O'Rielly this time, but will consider other infractions "a willful and knowing violation of the law" that could lead to legal action.

O'Rielly's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/1/17308418/fcc-commissioner-orielly-trump-law


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Captival on Sunday May 06, @03:54AM (10 children)

    by Captival (6866) on Sunday May 06, @03:54AM (#676252)

    A guy that Trump put into office declared that he's in favor of him! This is so shocking. As Tolerant Liberals, we know that this is completely unacceptable and that everyone involved should be impeached immediately. Everybody knows that when you have relationships that you keep secret, like, for example, when your Attorney General has a secret meeting off the record with the ex-President husband of a Secretary of State who is under FBI investigation, you just lie and say "we were just talking about grandkids!" Everybody knows this is a lie but you can't actually prove otherwise so it doesn't account. The best part is when we get to pretend to act shocked and appalled when our opponents do the exact same thing. It's only okay when we do it.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @03:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @03:59AM (#676253)

      "REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" - Incoming responses.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @06:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @06:18AM (#676275)

      > A guy that Trump put into office declared that he's in favor of him! This is so shocking. As Tolerant Liberals, we know that this is completely unacceptable and that everyone involved should be impeached immediately.

      Yeah, it's not like there is a law against it. Oh, wait.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Sunday May 06, @06:30AM (1 child)

      by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Sunday May 06, @06:30AM (#676278)

      Well, the Royal We here wonders how many Democratic-appointed FCC Commissioners you will find who advocated openly and actively in their public capacities for Obama's reelection (or Hillary's election)? Or other policy-level officials who openly advocate for the person who appointed them to be re-elected? And should you find someone, how were they disciplined?

      While I'm waiting for you to turn up a case... Why do you feel it is acceptable for someone to reach the post of FCC Commissioner but not learn something like this that others don't seem to know? Once appointed they don't work for Trump, they work for the people of the United States. ALL of us, including those who feel that Trump should in fact be impeached. If the commissioner doesn't know something as basic as that, then should that person not resign?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @10:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @10:01AM (#676311)

        Were I to break a law, ignorant of it or not, I'm sure I would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Ignorance no defense. It seems that persons in office just get a warning or, if the wait long enough, either they receive a pardon or the law is retrospectively changed so the offence becomes part or their job description.

        No one above the law, but if you own the legal system that's no impediment.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by fritsd on Sunday May 06, @07:05AM (5 children)

      by fritsd (4586) on Sunday May 06, @07:05AM (#676286) Journal

      You should be loyal to an absolute monarch or a maffia don, not to a president.

      Clearly this difference is no longer taught in schools.

      Do you know, what junior minister Angela Merkel did to her mentor and bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl, when she discovered a corruption scandal [wikipedia.org]?

      She stabbed him in the back.

      Nobody blinked. Business as usual. She was loyal to Germany by not playing along with him.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @07:34AM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @07:34AM (#676290)

        She doesn't even want to be seen with the flag. When handed one in public, she quickly handed it off in a very unpatriotic way, as if disposing of trash.

        She cares more about the EU, but she doesn't care much about that either. She is busy wiping out western civilization in Europe. It is going to end with another big war and genocide, and I fear the imported savages will win this time. Europe has been struggling against Islamic invasion for over a dozen centuries.

        Germany wreaked Europe twice in the 1900s. Here we go again.

        • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @10:57AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @10:57AM (#676326)

          I'm not sure who you think is more savage in that comparison, but to be clear, when the coming war in Europe is over, Islam is going to be dead in the whole of Europe, and back to the stone age in any other area that pokes a finger in.
          For the last 1000 years Europeans have repulsed Islamic attacks more as an entertaining diversion from their wars with each other than as serious business. When they get serious, Islam is toast.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @08:30PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @08:30PM (#676438)

            I doubt that there is a "war with Islam" brewing in Europe, and I welcome all peaceful immigrants. I there is ever any aggression, however, your comment will be spot on. We Europeans can be pretty nasty. Sure, the Middle East is in chaos, but they've yet to start even one world war... while the European Union exists solely to stop us from igniting one for the third time.

            -- Signed, citizen of a European country that spent half of it's 1000+ year history fighting the Ottoman Empire.

        • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Sunday May 06, @10:34PM (1 child)

          by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Sunday May 06, @10:34PM (#676461)

          I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but you are woefully ignorant of any culture outside the dreadful midwest US shithole you live in.

          In civilized nations leaders who wrap themselves in the flag and go full-on nationalist are likely to be punished at the polls, which is why in the civilized world politicians don't do it.

          Of course, in the civilized world there are more than two choices at the ballot, so we are used to thinking about shades of grey when we vote, rather than good old American dualism.

          Yes, yes, I know. If we don't do it your way we will wind up living in Venezuela.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, @01:49AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, @01:49AM (#676528)

            No, you’ll end up living in an Islamic state, but you’re too pridefully blind to notice.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Revek on Sunday May 06, @05:21AM

    by Revek (5022) on Sunday May 06, @05:21AM (#676263)

    The law is a variable to them.

  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by linkdude64 on Sunday May 06, @05:38AM (1 child)

    by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 06, @05:38AM (#676266)

    Oh, wait, it was actually (in most cases) not the non-profit ACLU Foundation that did the talking, it was the completely for-profit "ACLU [tiny]Inc.[/tiny]" that gave political opinions about Trump and everything else.
    Completely violating the spirit, but not the letter of the law, as did most other "Non-profits" (Amnesty International, etc.) which are actually two entities - a completely for-profit front company posing as a charity with a tiny, (mostly) quiet non-profit behind them. Accepting massive donations while quite freely giving their opinions on all things campaign-related.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday May 07, @06:24PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday May 07, @06:24PM (#676722) Journal

      Accepting massive donations while quite freely giving their opinions on all things campaign-related.

      This is precisely why they're two separate organizations. Donations go into two separate accounts. Most of those donations are *not* tax exempt, because they aren't going to the charity. But if you want you can specify that your donations must go to the charity arm of the organization at which point it then becomes tax exempt.

      They don't hide this, they don't try to deceive people as you imply -- it's literally written in plain black and white on every single donation request they ever post. That's how I know. If you look on their website you'll find two separate donation forms along with an explanation of exactly why they do this:
      https://action.aclu.org/content/giving-american-civil-liberties-union-and-american-civil-liberties-union-foundation-what?redirect=node/4577 [aclu.org]

      Not like they're pretending to be non-profit either -- I literally can't find the word "profit" anywhere on their page. Your post implies it pretends to be a non-profit but you have to dig around to find out it's actually not...but in reality it's the opposite, they never claim to be a non-profit until you dig around and find that they do actually have a non-profit component.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by John Miller on Sunday May 06, @05:51AM

    by John Miller (6613) on Sunday May 06, @05:51AM (#676268) Journal

    There's a lot of enthusiasm -- and frankly, love -- for President Trump, and it's growing. Rasmussen Reports -- big polling outfit -- says 41% of Americans believe President Trump will be re-elected. In December it was 34%. And most of the Democrat voters are saying, Dem politicians should talk about President Trump's policies, and about Dem policies. Not about all this impeachment stuff. And he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm sure he'll win it!

  • (Score: 3, Flamebait) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 06, @08:08AM (11 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 06, @08:08AM (#676297) Journal

    TFS and TFA suggest that whats-his-name responded to a direct question.

    O’Rielly was asked about how to avoid rapid swings in policy ushered in by a new administration.

    Given that 1. administration changes result in policy swings, 2. frequent adminstration changes result in rapid swings in policy, then there seems to be only one logical answer. That answer would be "Ensure that there are less frequent administration changes."

    Advocating for Trump? I dunno - I don't even like Trump, but I have to agree with the answer to the question that was asked. Did O'Rielly really break a law, or does some asshole just have a hardon for him? And, could that particular asshole just be a regressive left wing hater? This IS political, and seldom does anyone actually say what they really mean. At worst, I would probably say that O'Reilly ventured into shadowland, where what he said wasn't so much "illegal", as it was "offensive" to some twit or another.

    --
    #eatyourliver #WalkAway #CTRLLeft
    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @09:58AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @09:58AM (#676310)

      At worst, I would probably say that O'Reilly ventured into shadowland, where what he said wasn't so much "illegal", as it was "offensive" to some twit or another.

      Moar legal opinions from a hillbilly ex-trucker! Well, hot-diggety-dawg, son! Ya'll knows, doncha, that illegal is still illegal whether it offends or not? and we have judges to interpret law, so we don't need hillbilly ex-truckers doing it!

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 06, @10:43AM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 06, @10:43AM (#676320) Journal

        Except - a judge didn't determine that O'Reilly's words were illegal. So, in this case, we have moar cognitive disconnect from an anonymous coward. Worse, an anonymous coward who has no opinion on the issue at hand, but jumps at the chance to attack a member with an opinion. Are you, by chance, a redneck?

        --
        #eatyourliver #WalkAway #CTRLLeft
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, @05:03PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, @05:03PM (#677091)

        Oh hey, a progressive practicing classism. It must be a day that ends in 'y'.

    • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Sunday May 06, @11:05AM (3 children)

      by deimtee (3272) on Sunday May 06, @11:05AM (#676327)

      From wikipedia :

      The 1939 Act forbids the intimidation or bribery of voters and restricts political campaign activities by federal employees. It prohibits using any public funds designated for relief or public works for electoral purposes. It forbids officials paid with federal funds from using promises of jobs, promotion, financial assistance, contracts, or any other benefit to coerce campaign contributions or political support. It provides that persons below the policy-making level in the executive branch of the federal government must not only refrain from political practices that would be illegal for any citizen, but must abstain from "any active part" in political campaigns, using this language to specify those who are exempt.

      The Hatch Act seems to be more about prohibiting bribery and not using Federal funds and employees to campaign. If the comments he made really do violate the Hatch act it looks to me like The Hatch Act would fall to a First Amendment challenge.

      --
      Every call you get with blocked ID, answer it with "Hello Mrs Crawford".
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @03:13PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @03:13PM (#676373)

        No, it wouldn't, as a government employee he can't be advocating while on the job. If he wants to do it as a private citizen and disclaim that he's doing it as a private citizen, then he wouldn't be in violation.

        The problem here is that he was doing it as a government official which leads to all sorts of problems that are a lot harder to investigate and deal with.

        The first amendment isn't absolute, and one of those exceptions is where you don't interfere with elections or give the appearance that the government is interfering with elections either.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Sunday May 06, @09:25PM (1 child)

          by deimtee (3272) on Sunday May 06, @09:25PM (#676446)

          Somebody asked him a question. He gave what can only be described as an accurate answer. If that violates the Hatch Act, then it seems that the Hatch Act would violate "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech". The point at which you stretch the Hatch Act to cover what he did is also the point where you stretch it to breaking the First Amendment.

          Personal opinion is that it doesn't violate the First, but neither did he violate the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is about not using Federal resources to campaign, and answering a question is a long way from that.

          --
          Every call you get with blocked ID, answer it with "Hello Mrs Crawford".
          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday May 07, @06:52PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Monday May 07, @06:52PM (#676736) Journal

            Somebody asked him a question. He gave what can only be described as an accurate answer. If that violates the Hatch Act, then it seems that the Hatch Act would violate "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech". The point at which you stretch the Hatch Act to cover what he did is also the point where you stretch it to breaking the First Amendment.

            There's little point in discussing the First Amendment to the Constitution once you've already thrown out Articles I and II.

            The President *doesn't* set policy, that's the job of the Legislative branch. The Executive branch *implements* that policy. Of course I wouldn't disagree that implementation details are themselves a form of policy, but it seems pretty strange to focus on the President alone as the rock that's going to keep the policy stable by playing with implementation details when the entire policy could be scrapped without his involvement. An actual truthful answer would be "don't change the government", not "re-elect President Trump". Of course, that would also mean telling people to re-elect incumbent Democrats too, which O'Rielly probably didn't want to do. And that's what makes it a violation of the Hatch Act -- it's NOT an honest answer to a legitimate question, it's an incorrect answer designed to favor a specific candidate.

            Of course, it's a violation that he's likely to get away with since it's a common misconception shared by much of the US population -- including yourself apparently. But if *O'Rielly* didn't know the difference, he's woefully incompetent for his current position. If he did know the difference, and just chose to single out Trump anyway, that's campaigning and does violate the Hatch act if any federal funds were supporting it. So is he a criminal, or is he just incompetent? Is one really that much better than the other?

    • (Score: 1) by fritsd on Sunday May 06, @04:47PM

      by fritsd (4586) on Sunday May 06, @04:47PM (#676394) Journal

      yeah good point.

      Or he could have answered: "make policy that is a compromise between the party-political plans that all the largest parties can live with". But I suppose that would be un-American (or at least un-FPTP).

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday May 06, @08:30PM

      by sjames (2882) on Sunday May 06, @08:30PM (#676437) Journal

      Possible answers include "That's a question for the citizens to decide", "demonstrate the effectiveness of the policy so whoever may be elected will wish to continue with it", or even "I'm afraid that question is above my pay grade".

      The law is actually quite clear and at the time he was unquestionably speaking in his capacity as commissioner, not as an individual.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday May 07, @01:50AM

      by c0lo (156) on Monday May 07, @01:50AM (#676529)

      That answer would be "Ensure that there are less frequent administration changes."

      The evident answer to stability is, then, make sure the administration never changes.

      If the law is against such a scenario (like it now is against a public servant publicly expressing partisan opinions), then by God repeal that law, it's unnatural.
      To hell with your constitution, rip and burn it, and give Trump a life-time mandate - like president Xi, who already has one.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday May 07, @06:57PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday May 07, @06:57PM (#676743) Journal

      1) The President doesn't set policy, he implements it. The Legislature sets policy.

      2) Trump's administration has been particularly unstable*. So even if we're specifically focused only on executive branch policy, keeping Trump isn't necessarily going to bring any more stability than bringing in someone new. So you can't say it's factually and trivially correct, it's pure opinion.

      *http://fortune.com/2017/12/28/trump-white-house-record-first-year-turnover-rate/

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Sunday May 06, @10:47AM (9 children)

    ...he told a crowd that one way to avoid policy changes was to "make sure that President Trump gets reelected,"...

    I wouldn't call that advocacy, I'd call that a simple, factual statement. If Trump gets reelected, his policies will be very likely to continue; if he doesn't, they may or may not. Telling the truth is nod advocacy. Advocacy requires putting forth an opinion. The opinion that Trump should be reelected is what is necessary to call anything advocacy in favor of him.

    --
    "Buzzy, you're probably the dumbest person I've ever encountered. Well, there is aristarchus, so make it 2nd dumbest."
    • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Sunday May 06, @05:06PM (2 children)

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 06, @05:06PM (#676400)

      And this is why I think it should be possible to up-mod an unmoderated comment. I feel the parent should be upmodded, but I don't consider it either interesting or insightful. More "well, of course". It probably should have a score of two or three. Not more, because telling the truth *can* be advocacy. And putting forth an opinion isn't necessarily advocacy. Both, however, are usually true.

      --
      Put not your faith in princes.
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @08:33PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @08:33PM (#676439)

        > And this is why I think it should be possible to up-mod an unmoderated comment. I feel the parent should be upmodded, but I don't consider it either interesting or insightful. More "well, of course". It probably should have a score of two or three.

        Isn't that what the "underrated" mod does?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @11:57PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @11:57PM (#676487)

          It's not possible to mod a comment underrated (or overrated) if it hasn't already been modded at least once.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @05:06PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, @05:06PM (#676401)

      And this is why I didn't vote for you.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Monday May 07, @02:09AM (2 children)

      by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Monday May 07, @02:09AM (#676536)

      From Mr. "I can't tell you if I'm pulling out of or bombing Syria this week, am I taking away guns without due process or cozying up to the NRA, am I kiling TPP or getting into it, Kim Jong Un is an evil person but let's support reunification, and 'I'm not going to have time to play golf'" Trump?

      Even if you could generally call that statement true, or say there was no possible way a political appointee could have answered that question without making a campaigning statement, Donald Trump would be the last person you should expect that continued tenure in office would avoid policy changes from.

      • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Monday May 07, @08:52AM (1 child)

        by realDonaldTrump (6614) Subscriber Badge on Monday May 07, @08:52AM (#676585) Homepage Journal

        I've evolved on a lot of different things. But I always, always put America First!

        --
        #StopTheBias [twitter.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, @01:26PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, @01:26PM (#676632)

          Sort of makes me wonder how the CIA twisted your arm. I know you're lover and not a fighter (*snicker*), ah, but I shouldn't snicker. Nobody wants World War 3, excepting, of course, the capitalist elites working through the CIA.

          Only Trump could go to North Korea. I'm certain there's some profound truth about masculinity and sexuality here, as much as it may make certain people uncomfortable.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday May 07, @07:06PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday May 07, @07:06PM (#676752) Journal

      I wouldn't call that advocacy, I'd call that a simple, factual statement. If Trump gets reelected, his policies will be very likely to continue; if he doesn't, they may or may not. Telling the truth is nod advocacy. Advocacy requires putting forth an opinion. The opinion that Trump should be reelected is what is necessary to call anything advocacy in favor of him.

      The truth is that the Trump administration is the least stable executive branch in at least recent history. How is maintaining a record-breaking level of instability supposed to bring about greater stability?

      http://fortune.com/2017/12/28/trump-white-house-record-first-year-turnover-rate/ [fortune.com]

      The other truth is that Trump doesn't really set policy, Congress does.

      If he had told them to keep the incumbent congress -- Democrats included -- then yes, it would be a factually correct statement. But saying that the least stable person around who has no Constitutional right to set policy is going to be the one person who can keep that policy stable is not a factually correct statement, it's a joke.

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