WASHINGTON – A White House press secretary who refers questions to the White House?
Kayleigh McEnany is wearing two hats, one as a Trump 2020 campaign adviser and the other as the White House press secretary, charged with articulating the administration’s policies and positions to the press and the public.
The dual role raises questions about the appropriateness of taking on both tasks while drawing a taxpayer-financed salary of $183,000 a year.
And it has created some odd moments. On Thursday morning, McEnany appeared on Fox News as a campaign adviser and punted when asked if President Donald Trump should be providing President-elect Joe Biden access to the President's Daily Briefing on top intelligence matters.
“Well, I haven’t spoken to the president about that, so that would be a question more for the White House,” she said.
Joe Lockhart, who served as White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, tweeted that McEnany’s “behavior is both outrageous and damaging.” He called for House lawmakers to conduct an inquiry.
But Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the private Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said he did not believe McEnany was in violation of the Hatch Act, the law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are working in an official capacity. Bookbinder said McEnany bolstered her position by not taking a question about White House policy in the Fox interview.
“If she says that she is speaking in a campaign role and not in her official role, and she refuses to answer questions about official White House issues, it’s hard to see how she is using her official role for politics, and it looks like, at least as a technical matter, not a violation of the Hatch Act,” Bookbinder said.