EPA under investigation for violating anti-lobbying rule: Union official

The rule says that agency's social media must be politically neutral.

The Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that investigates whistleblower and other complaints, is looking into whether the tweet violated the Hatch Act. That law says that government employees cannot engage in political or partisan activity while they are at work and specifically says that federal agencies' social media accounts must be politically neutral.

A union official filed a complaint about the tweet and shared an email with ABC News that shows the Office of Special Counsel has assigned someone to investigate the complaint. A spokesman for the Office of Special Counsel confirmed that they received the complaint but said they do not confirm or deny an open investigation.

An EPA spokesman said in a statement that the agency is not aware of an investigation related to the tweet.

“EPA employees strive to comply with all applicable statutory requirements, including the Hatch Act,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in the statement.

The email was first reported in the Washington Post.

The EPA has faced questions over its social media accounts before. In 2015 the Government Accountability Office found that the agency violated a different anti-lobbying and anti-propaganda law by using social media platforms to promote the Waters of the United States rule.

That GAO ruling said that the EPA's social media campaign promoted a message on social media that did not identify the EPA as the source and asked people to contact Congress in opposition to pending legislation.