White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany appears to have accepted a new gig. In addition to her role as a government employee, she is now a senior assistant during her boss’s re-election campaign.
In an appearance on Fox News Tuesday morning, McEnany was introduced as “Trump’s 2020 senior adviser and White House press secretary.” Hours later, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney introduced McEnany saying she “now serves as an advisor to the Trump campaign.”
McEnany’s dual role for the White House and Trump’s re-election campaign immediately raised alarm bells among good government supporters, who said they were another example of the often blurred lines between the Trump administration and the political operation of the president.
“This sounds like the latest example of Trump administration officials breaking and breaking laws and ethical standards,” said Paul Seamus Ryan, vice president of litigation for the Common Cause group. “This is unfortunately normal for this administration.”
A White House spokesperson said McEnany was not representing the White House during his Fox appearances on Tuesday.
“Kayleigh was appearing in a personal capacity as a private citizen,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign confirmed that McEnany was an unpaid adviser and also said she appeared on Fox on Tuesday in her personal capacity. The spokeswoman said the cable news shows she appears on “were urged not to designate her with her White House title,” despite Fox & Friends’ introduction on Tuesday which included both her campaign and White House titles.
While most of McEnany’s two Fox successes on Tuesday were about the status of the Trump campaign and the 2020 race, she also weighed in on official administration policy on issues such as COVID relief negotiations with the Democrats in Congress.
“The chances [for a deal] are thin when you have someone like Nancy Pelosi for the Speaker of the House, ”McEnany told Varney. “If we bring stimulus relief to the American people, it should be just that, for the American people, for American citizens, and not a wish list from the liberal left,” McEnany told Varney.
Speaking against a backdrop that featured both the White House and the Trump campaign logo, McEnany also launched a series of policy proposals that “we have brought forward” in these negotiations.
It’s that kind of blurry line between the White House and campaign messages, and the prospect that taxpayer resources may continue to support the president’s re-election effort, that worries Ryan.
“This excerpt is McEnany commenting on federal government policy currently being negotiated by the Trump administration with Congress. It’s McEnany who does the work of a [White House] Press officer, ”he said. “Someone who works in the White House is allowed to do campaign work as well. They just can’t mix the two. They cannot try to do both things simultaneously.
Ryan compared the situation to the controversy over the illicit political activities of former White House Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway, who used her official Twitter account to share political messages, leading the Office of the Special Advisor to recommend her dismissal for violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits the use of taxpayer resources for partisan purposes.
Conway brushed aside the complaints with a simple statement: “Blah blah blah.”
Trump’s White House, and the president himself, have reveled in the frequent criticism they receive over their unprecedented use of taxpayer resources in the service of the president’s re-election. After being criticized for hosting a White House-field political nominating convention in August, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh tweeted: “The Liberals are more upset about the use of government buildings than they have ever been about the use of the FBI to target political opponents.
McEnany’s Fox appearances on Tuesday came about two months after White House lawyers waived ethics rules so she could meet as a government official with Trump campaign and committee employees. Republican Nationals, both of whom have previously employed it.
The waiver memo is not dated, but metadata in the file posted on the White House website indicates that it was created on August 26. It was the day of McEnany’s speech at the Republican National Convention. She also spoke at a Trump campaign rally this month.
The White House has also waived ethics rules for another staff member, Advance Director Bobby Peede, to allow communications with the Trump campaign. According to Federal Election Commission records, Trump’s re-election made regular December 2019 payments earlier this month to the company Event Strategies, where Peede served as a partner before joining the White House.
The largest of those payments, for nearly $ 100,000, occurred on August 24, two days before Peede’s waiver note was created.
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