There was a rare public violation by an officer in uniform this week when Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was met by Major Ginger Tate of the U.S. Army National Guard Signal Corps . Tate proceeded to give Biden some ceremonial coins but then added “I hope and pray that you will be our next president.” This could present a novel problem for the White House. Normally, the White House could strongly object to the violation of the Hatch Act, but the Trump White House (and particularly adviser Kelly Anne Conway) has been a flagrant violator of the Act and refused to take actions against those violating the Act in favor of the President.
The scene was quickly picked up by conservative media sites. Tate states the following to Biden:
“I’ve been saving these coins for six years to meet you and President Obama so if that I ever met you, I would give it to you … and when I saw on the news that you were coming, I just had to be here. Thank you so much for your guidance … I’m so honored to have served under your administration and your leadership and I hope and pray that you will be our next president.”
It was a mistake and Major Tate should know better. We deeply value our apolitical military tradition. However, this seems an unguarded and ill-considered moment. A simple reprimand would seem sufficient. It is however an example of the cost of losing the high ground on ethics in the Trump White House. An objection under the Hatch Act from the White House would produce little beyond snickering and ridicule given its own violations.