Now in Government Food Aid Boxes: A Letter From Donald Trump

Democrats say the letter violates the law against using government resources to campaign. It’s just the latest example of President Trump using his office to boost his reelection hopes.

Democrats say the letter violates the law against using government resources to campaign. It’s just the latest example of President Trump using his office to boost his reelection hopes.

“Using a federal relief program to distribute a self-promoting letter from the President to American families just three months before the presidential election is inappropriate and a violation of federal law,” argued 49 House Democrats led by Marcia Fudge of Ohio in an August 14 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, requesting information about the purpose and process behind Trump’s letter. “A public health crisis is not an opportunity for the administration to promote its own political interests. Likewise, a federal food assistance program should not be used as a tool for the President to exploit taxpayer dollars for his re-election campaign.”

Past administrations have observed the Hatch Act with strict firewalls between campaign and official events and admonitions against officials’ making any statements or taking actions that could appear political. The Trump administration, however, has routinely flouted this law. In addition to using the White House for convention speeches by the president and first lady, Trump and other officials also conducted a naturalization ceremony and a pardon as part of the Republican National Convention, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech from a diplomatic trip to Israel. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act so many times that the independent Office of Special Counsel recommended she be fired. (She wasn’t, and said she’d leave the White House in August for family reasons.)

But coming so close to an election, the implication of the letter was not lost on anyone. Some food banks expressed concern that the letter looked too much like a political endorsement, which tax-exempt nonprofit organizations aren’t allowed to make.

“As a non-profit, we would have to take the letter out of the boxes if they were included because we can’t publicly support political candidates,” Mark Quandt, the executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, said in an email.

Trump’s letter purports to reinforce public health measures against the coronavirus, urging people to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the letter’s advice contradicts the CDC’s actual guidelines on face coverings, which Trump has resisted despite expert consensus. The letter says to “consider wearing a face covering when in public,” whereas the CDC says more definitively, “Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.”

Aside from the letter, the food box program has come under fire for relying on questionable vendors and failing to match supplies with needs. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus is investigating the selection and performance of distribution companies that the USDA hired to implement the program, including several that lacked a requisite license to deal in fresh produce.

At least one contract, for $40 million, was canceled; the vendor, Ben Holtz, said he’s still negotiating a settlement with the USDA. Others have been extended or added. Only 70% of vendors fulfilled at least 90% of their orders, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach testified at a July 21 congressional hearing.

Ibach also acknowledged that the program “underserved” some regions because regional equity wasn’t a factor in the USDA contractor selection.

“Although Congress allocated billions of dollars to distribute food to Americans in need, I am concerned that the Trump Administration’s management of this critical effort has been marred by questionable contracting practices, a lack of accountability, and a failure to deliver food to many communities that need it most,” the coronavirus subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said in an August 24 letter to Perdue. “Rather than focusing on addressing these problems, the Administration appears to be seeking political benefits from the program, including by inserting a letter signed by President Trump in food boxes.”

More at the link above.   Hugs

6 thoughts on “Now in Government Food Aid Boxes: A Letter From Donald Trump

  1. Nan September 2, 2020 / 13:45

    One person says what he does is against the law … another person says it’s against common decency … another person says it’s cheating … MANY say he’s told innumerable lies. And on and on it goes.

    But NOTHING CHANGES! He continues to spread his (literal) SHIT — and no one seems able to stop him. Why????

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scottie September 2, 2020 / 15:12

      Hello Nan. I understand your frustration, I really do. But this is building the case. When you are without the tools to do the best job, you use what you have to do what you can. The voters started the process of halting tRump by putting Democrats in control of the House. But they did not manage to complete the job by taking the Senate. The fact is the Democrats in this tRump government are playing defense with their backs to a cliff and larger better armed apposing army pushing the closer to the cliff . But that will and can change with this next election. The important thing is to take the Senate, and also get rid of tRump. But while we work to gaining the power to really force changes and stop the Republican pillaging of the country, we are also building a case against them with the people and that can be used in the criminal courts. If the Biden administration doesn’t investigate and charge all the wrong doing / illegal acts then we have no defense against another tRump who may be smarter and will achieve a dictatorship. The breaking of any law while in elected office must be prosecuted fully with no standing to party or power.

      Again Nan I understand the frustration and your recent decision to pull back. This last week I came very close to just not getting out of bed in the morning and not reading the news or posting. In fact I have been reading more of others blogs than posting. This is the first day since my … failure I have really read the news I get. I also have wanted to shut of the news feeds and watch HBO, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. But that doesn’t help my country and is not really who I am. I believe in the US and want to fight to save it. I want to join with others to make a difference and to stop the bigotry and racism. When I was younger I marched for the LGBTQ+ equality and I still support and give money to those causes. I want a better US based on a living constitution that can change to better help the people and that makes me a true patriot. I hear a lot from people like tRump who did not serve in any capacity to help his country but took from it instead about patriotism. They do not understand that means working to improve the country for everyone. They think it means lip service supporting what ever anyone in charge says and never saying any thing bad about the US. Not so, true patriotism is understanding your country has flaws and working to improve and make it better. It is not blind forced loyalty but real love for the potential of what it can be. Forcing kids to pledge allegiance to the flag is not patriotism, it is against it, the kids don’t understand what it means and it robs them of their rights. But the hard right can not understand that , it is too nuanced for them. Not enough authoritarian for them to get the point. Going to stop now, getting really down. Hugs

      OT. I said the other day that I was sending you an email. I did write it and described everything, but before we could act they simply did what we were working to prevent, so no need for Ron to go north and put his medical skills to work. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nan September 2, 2020 / 15:36

    All I can say at this point, Scottie, is I hope you’re right.

    Sorry that things went south on the other situation, but at least Ron didn’t have to travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scottie September 3, 2020 / 07:38

      Hello Nan. Not until the funeral. Hugs


      • Nan September 3, 2020 / 11:15

        Can’t “like” this. Morbid thought, but possibly more realistic than desired.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Scottie September 3, 2020 / 14:14

          Hello Nan. Sent you a short email on the situation. Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

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